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SBP Southwest Louisiana Celebrates their 100th Welcome Home Party

Within just a few months of one another, Hurricane Laura and Delta devastated Southwest Louisiana in 2020, resulting in over $20 billion in damages and displacing thousands of families. In the immediate aftermath of these disasters, SBP's team deployed to the region to assess the damage and begin the work of rebuilding communities. That winter, extreme flooding caused further destruction, delaying ongoing recovery efforts. But that didn't stop John O'Donnell, SBP's Executive Director in SWLA, and his team, who were tirelessly determined to help families like Charles and Allison Ned's return home.

When Charles and Allison Ned heard the news that Hurricane Laura was projected to make landfall on their hometown, they did what they were advised to do by news media and government agencies alike – they evacuated. They hopped in their truck with their adult daughter and drove to Beaumont, Southeast Texas, to wait out the storm. After Hurricane Laura passed, they navigated the treacherous roads back to Lake Charles, only to find their home of 19 years in shambles. "So I did the only thing I knew to do," says Mr. Charles. "I started calling my friends who were still out of town and offered to check on their homes." In the following weeks, Mr. Charles shored up and secured unsealed homes for lifelong friends and even the occasional stranger. Despite their goodwill, their own repairs were slow to progress.

After seeking help to rebuild, teams of volunteers coordinated by SWLA Responds, a disaster response coalition based in Houston, were able to muck and gut the interior of their home. This laid the groundwork for volunteers to install a new roof and for Mr. Charles to personally rewire his house. Despite the significant progress, the remaining challenges and financial strain had left their family stuck living in a FEMA trailer indefinitely, with no clear path to full recovery. When SBP approved the Neds for Owner-Occupied Rebuild Services, our construction department called upon a key partner, the Fuller Center Disaster Rebuilders, due to the size of the project. By leveraging their teams of committed volunteers, SBP was able to complete the interior of their home, including all drywall, flooring, cabinetry, and plumbing installation.

On Friday, July 8th, and SBP's SWLA team welcomed Mr. and Mrs. Ned back to their fully restored home. Together with their friends, family, and community members, they cut a ribbon marking the official completion of their home, followed by a meal and cake. John O'Donnell reflects on all the hard work and coordination it took to get the job done: "The systems SBP has in place always have one goal: to shrink the time between disaster and recovery. We feel incredibly grateful to our donors, volunteers, local contractors, and AmeriCorps Members who have contributed to the completion of this project."

While our Southwest Louisiana Team celebrates the return home of their 100th client in the Lake Charles region, the work isn't over. Hurricane Laura and Delta damaged 40,388 homes and 21,271 rental units, and there is still an unmet housing need of over $155 million (Restore Louisiana, 2022). Because of this reality, there are still hundreds of families living in untenable situations, not in their homes, yearning for the security, comfort, and peace that the Ned family has regained. These families are at risk of being pushed beyond their breaking point, and SBP is committed to doing all that we can to get them home.

A special thank you to KPLC 7 News for covering the event and to the following partners for helping to make the return home for disaster-affected communities possible: United Way of Southwest Louisiana, Entergy, Center for Disaster Philanthropy, Care Help, Vinton Hurricane Laura Recovery, Walmart Foundation, Entergy, Blue Cross, Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation, Musk Foundation, AARP Louisiana Foundation, AT&T, Citgo, Raising Cane's, and the UPS Foundation.


Restore Louisiana. Action Plan Public Hearing with LA Office of Community Development. 2020-2021 Federally Declared Disasters. March 9, 2022.