UWSELA: 2 Years Removed From Historic Floods, Long-Term Recovery Still Vital

Aired on Live United Radio on March 18, 2018 

Catholic Charities Division Director Tom Costanza was a guest on United Way of Southeast Louisiana’s Live United Radio show, discussing the continued recovery efforts two years after the historic March 2016 North Shore floods. 

Two years ago, the March 2016 flooding event in Louisiana saw historic rainfall on an area with countless bayous, rivers, and streams. Thousands of homes were affected by the flooding leaving families with massive emotional and financial losses. Combined with the floods that followed shortly afterward in August, this one-two punch had a large part of our community reeling. Many of the families affected are part of the growing number of individuals and households known as A.L.I.C.E. (Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed). These individuals and families are our hard-working, tax-paying neighbors that are living paycheck-to-paycheck and can find themselves falling into poverty in the event of an unexpected emergency. In total, nearly half of the citizens in Southeast Louisiana are either below the poverty line or teetering right on the edge.

Emergency officials and recovery organizations, including United Way of Southeast Louisiana, jumped into action and led the response efforts across many parts of the state, including in St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, and Washington parishes. Initial UWSELA efforts included the collection, warehousing, and distribution of nearly $1.5 million worth of supplies donated to assist with mucking and gutting of homes and mobilizing 16,000 volunteer hours to meet the needs of 155 families.

While the immediate response was critical, United Way of Southeast Louisiana continues to focus on the long-term recovery of this region well after the floodwaters have receded. Our collaborative partners have implemented case management that assesses, plans, coordinates, monitors, and evaluates the options and services required to meet each client’s health and human service needs.

Red Cross has partnered with the United Way system and has provided grants to assist in the rebuilding and to amplify our impact.

Through our commitment to long-term recovery on the Northshore, we recognize that rebuilding is much more than brick and mortar. When our neighbors needed it most, the recovery has been led by people just like you – those who donate their time, talent, and treasure to fight for the most vulnerable among us. 

Listen to the full Live United Radio interview here.