A New Orleans-based disaster recovery nonprofit that has rebuilt hundreds of homes across the country over the past decade plans to set up an office in Baton Rouge to serve people affected by this month’s historic flooding, the group said.
The nonprofit, formerly known as the St. Bernard Project, was launched in 2006 to help Hurricane Katrina victims in the New Orleans area. It has since changed its name to SBP and broadened its footprint, serving disaster victims across seven states.
“The people of Baton Rouge and other parts of Louisiana poured their hearts out for New Orleanians impacted by Katrina,” said Zack Rosenburg, the group’s co-founder and CEO. “Today, however, it is our neighbors in South Louisiana who are in need of help.”
Thanks to start-up funding from UPS Inc., the group plans to open one or more offices in the Baton Rouge area within the next two months, said Liz McCartney, its co-founder and director of client services. It’s not yet clear just where in the area SBP will set up its operations.
Along with home rebuilding services, the group plans to share information on best practices in disaster recovery with other area rebuilding organizations.
The group's approach is based on Toyota’s car production system, Rosenburg said. Everything — from client conversations to case management to fundraising — is done under one roof, and every point in the rebuilding process is tracked.
While no partnerships have been formalized, SBP hopes to meet with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Baton Rouge and Rebuilding Together of Baton Rouge, McCartney said.
It also will warn residents about contractor fraud and offer tips about mold remediation and how to haggle with FEMA for the right amount of disaster aid. Even now, the group is sending workers to gut homes in the area.
The goal is to ensure that Baton Rouge bounces back more quickly than New Orleans did after Katrina, McCartney said.
“I know they are very different disasters, and very different communities, but anything that we can do to make sure that 10 years later, people aren’t still rebuilding in Baton Rouge, we want to do that,” she said.
To donate or to volunteer, visit sbpusa.org or call (504) 277-6831.