NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Baton Rouge community is getting a little help from Beyonce's family — mother Tina, sister Solange and friend Kelly Rowland — in recovering from catastrophic flooding last August that left many people homeless.
Tina Knowles-Lawson, Solange Knowles and Rowland, with support from Beyonce's #BeyGOOD Charitable Foundation, are hosting "Love on Louisiana: An Essence Hometown Heroes Tribute." The event is scheduled Nov. 20 in partnership with Essence Inc., the state of Louisiana and city of Baton Rouge.
Solange Knowles and Rowland are scheduled to appear, but aren't performing. Beyonce is contributing financially through her foundation.
Knowles-Lawson, in a telephone interview Friday with The Associated Press, said she's hoping the event will bring much needed attention to the plight families still face after losing everything when tons of water swamped their homes.
"I've experienced flooding and know how traumatic it can be," said Knowles-Lawson, who's originally from Galveston, Texas, but has family in Louisiana. "It's really a lot worse in the Baton Rouge area than we thought it was but there's not been a whole lot of media attention. It just kind of disappeared off people's radar. So I was trying to think of what I could do to help people remember."
The mid-August flooding killed 13 people and caused more than $8.7 billion in estimated damage.
Knowles-Lawson said the tribute event developed after she asked her famous daughters to donate money to relief efforts. She reached out to Essence President Michelle Ebanks and others to help direct the funds.
Ebanks, who has cultivated contacts for years with the state through organizing the annual Essence Festival in New Orleans, linked Knowles-Lawson up with state officials — and the tribute was born.
Knowles-Lawson said she usually supports causes from behind the scenes but felt the need to move to the forefront to help bring more attention to the aftermath of the flooding.
"I'm not sure if the story got lost amid the elections or what," she said. "But being inundated by water is a devastating and traumatic experience."
The invitation-only dinner and awards ceremony is to be held at Raising Cane's River Center in Baton Rouge, where 400 teachers and students will be treated to a traditional Thanksgiving meal and honored for their commitment to serving and rebuilding the community. In addition, gift baskets of donated goods will be distributed to those who are still affected by the severe flooding.
Organizers also hope to raise $1 million for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Baton Rouge to help offset the housing crisis touched off by the flood. Donations will be accepted through Habitat's website: http://www.habitatbr.org.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards thanked Knowles-Lawson for thinking of the state's residents.
"Our people have endured many setbacks over the last several months, but they are resilient and determined to come back stronger. But we cannot do it alone and that is why it is so gratifying to know that you support us and that your hearts are with Louisiana," he said in a statement.