Catholic Charities concerned help is fleeing Louisiana

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NEW ROADS - There are thousands of people still waiting, relying on the help of others to fix up their flood damaged homes.

One of those people is Dorothy Ephron. With no flood insurance and little help from FEMA, she turned to Catholic Charities for help.

Ephron is one of about 4,000 people in a disaster case management program through Catholic Charities. It's long-term recovery for people with high needs including the elderly, handicap, and poor.

Long-term recovery is about helping a person formulate a recovery plan and Catholic Charities help those people find the resources within the community to complete that plan.

Ephron says she's been working with Catholic Charities since November 2016 after responding to a pamphlet left in her door.

"They came in and checked the house and they was saying that they was going to help us you know, to repair it all," said Ephron.

The process has been slow.

"They just said, 'have patience,' I said, 'OK, I have patience," said Ephron.

David Aguillard, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge Catholic Charities tells 2 On Your Side, while it helps people through the recovery process, some of the resources needed, including funding, continues to be a challenge.

"Some of it {the money} will come from government sources, but primarily those unmet needs come from foundations and they come from donors," said Aguillard.

The average person on Catholic Charities' list has about $30,000 in unmet needs from the August 2016 flood. That's after FEMA, after Restore LA, and other governmental programs. Aguillard is fearful that money and manpower needed to help Louisiana flood victims recover is already being designated elsewhere.

"Some of them are leaving, we have seen over the past couple of weeks that some of the contractors that we've been able to rely on have pulled up and gone to other parts of the country," he said.

While Catholic Charities recognizes there's a need in areas affected by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, it's concerned the floods of last year will continue to be overlooked.

"Getting resources to victims of the flood has been and continues to be a challenge," said Aguillard.

Catholic Charities reports that 2016 flood victims are still living in mold-infested homes. Of its 4,000 family caseload, Catholic Charities says about 3,000 have no furniture or are lacking essential household goods, 800 are living in unrepaired homes, 500 still have mold, and 160 are living in gutted homes where no repairs have been initiated.

Wednesday afternoon, 2 On Your Side learned Ephron's case has been approved and volunteers will begin working on her house by the end of September.

Catholic Charities says just because someone is in the case management program, it does not always mean Catholic Charities has the money or supplies to give to someone. It might just mean connecting someone to the right person.

Louisiana's centralized referral number is 1-844-581-2207.



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