The Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank's warehouse flooded with 4 feet of water Sunday morning, ruining 500,000 pounds of food, said CEO Mike Manning.
Floodwaters swamped the South Choctaw Drive facility, submerging everything on the first level of racks in the 170,000-square-foot warehouse, Manning said.
All food inside the cooler and freezer was lost as well as shipments being prepared Friday and Saturday for flood-affected areas, he said.
"The toughest thing for us and our team is that we can’t do what we do in these situations, which is help people," Manning said. "That’s what we are trying to get back to do."
The Food Bank is accepting new donations at another facility at 13112 S. Choctaw Drive. Manning asks that donations include non-perishable food items — canned and boxed goods — and monetary donations. He requested that monetary donations be given in the form of checks. To donate money online, visit brfoodbank.org and click on "Ways to Give."
Manning estimated the loss of food at $835,000, but the staff has not been able to access inventory systems to make an accurate count. All the charity's offices and computer equipment were flooded.
After spending Friday and Saturday packing food to deliver to flooded areas, Manning arrived at 9 a.m. Sunday to see water surrounding the area around the Food Bank's warehouse, which opened in 2014 after moving from a smaller facility nearby.
The Food Bank serves 90,000 unique visitors per year, Manning said, and the charity serves the needy in an 11-parish area.
"That’s what we’re all about is feeding people," Manning said. "Usually in a disaster we feed a heck of a lot more people than we do on regular basis."
Starting Monday evening the staff was able to enter the flooded warehouse and saw food flung everywhere in the aisles.
Volunteers from local schools and businesses as well as inmates from the East Feliciana Parish Prison and volunteers from a national disaster program, the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster are helping with cleanup. Groups from Team Rubicon, a veterans service organization, and NECHAMA, a Jewish disaster relief organization, are also helping with the effort.