FFL Rapid Response Fund Statement of Intent August 2017 Flooding


One of the biggest concerns during the most recent events was the inability of the city to effectively disseminate news about the flooding risks. Residents were caught off-guard and unaware. It also quickly became obvious that despite the numerous disasters that have affected the city, not all local residents have been able to take the personal mitigation and preparedness actions that could help them remain safe.

August 2017 Flooding in New Orleans
Living with and managing stormwater is a constant issue in a low-lying area like New Orleans. Yet, as the events of this past week have shown us, it is one to which we must remain constantly vigilant. One year after the Great Flood of 2016 that impacted much of the state, Louisiana is once again faced with a water management crisis.

On Saturday, Aug. 5, a stalled rain system dumped several inches of water into the city in a scant few hours. The inability of the drainage canals and pumps to respond to the deluge of water resulted in flooding of streets — stranding motorists — and damage to businesses, homes and vehicles. Within days it became apparent that some of the damage stemmed from pumps and turbines that were offline or running at reduced capacity. In the overnight hours of Aug. 10, a fire damaged one of the turbines that powers the pumps, resulting in a pumping system that currently is unable to handle even a heavy summer storm, let alone any tropical weather. Even at the best of times, the pump capacity can only handle a 10-year flood event because of the high price associated with infrastructure upgrades and the unusually uneven geography of the city.

What these events have shown us is that the City of New Orleans — even as we approach the 12th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina — still has work to do to deal with water and extreme weather emergencies. The same is true across the state; coastal erosion and land loss, as well as infrastructure that is poorly maintained and/or sub-standard capacity for events above a maximum threshold, and continuation of development practices that induce risk, means that challenges related to water management will continue to plague the state.

One of the biggest concerns during the most recent events was the inability of the city to effectively disseminate news about the flooding risks. Residents were caught off-guard and unaware. It also quickly became obvious that despite the numerous disasters that have affected the city, not all local residents have been able to take the personal mitigation and preparedness actions that could help them remain safe. For many, this is an issue of economics and systemic bias; preparedness is a challenge when 25-30 percent of residents live in poverty. This number is even higher for children, single-parent households and African Americans.

Further, residents may not be fully aware of risks or capable of having plans in place to address high water. That is not dependent on the residents alone but an issue for the city to consider as it addresses risks and designs/implements programs to address those risks. FFL firmly feels that residents should have a seat at the table in the design of those initiatives/communications mechanisms.

Rapid Response Fund
Foundation for Louisiana’s Equitable Disaster Response Framework undergirds the foundation’s response to community emergencies and disasters, recognizing that they require accessible, on-the-ground philanthropic responses and ongoing strategic analysis. The Rapid Response Fund is designed to quickly provide financial support to strengthen local, on-the-ground groups in high-impact disaster response—now and through the critical long-term disaster recovery and rebuilding phases.

External grants to the Rapid Response Fund often are made in the immediate aftermath of a major disaster. However, building resilience within the city and state will only come through advanced investments to support preparedness activities. A multi-pronged approach that addresses all stages of the disaster cycle will create more enduring outcomes for Louisiana families.

What Do We Fund?
In general, the government’s response has dramatically improved since Hurricane Katrina. We know that the role of first responders is to save lives, serve evacuees and assess the recovery landscape. Yet, in the recent flooding events, the lack of details and notice of danger from officials (both City of New Orleans and the Sewerage and Water Board released inaccurate information) could have had much more serious consequences.

The role of philanthropic organizations, like Foundation for Louisiana, is to focus financial and strategic resources to ensure disaster-impacted families get the attention they need and can have a say in the critical decisions that will dictate the terms of their recovery. While the focus is not on individual assistance, FFL looks to partners to support families in their recovery and to prepare for future risk.

By contributing to FFL’s Rapid Response Fund, you can support the foundation to provide assistance for immediate needs, long-term recovery and ongoing preparedness activities.

Building on our experience and expertise, we will use our capacity to work with organizations that are involved with providing assistance and have sustained prior relationships with individuals and families in the affected areas. As a statewide philanthropic organization whose roots are in disaster response and recovery, we are able to provide responsive assistance and ensure that devastated communities rebuild and become more resilient.

In the aftermath of this most recent disaster, and heading into the height of the hurricane season, FFL is looking to:

· Support efforts to educate and inform the public about weather risks and how to mitigate flooding on their personal property.

· Develop a strategic communications plan—during and in advance of a disaster—that builds on local residents’ knowledge about needs and messaging.

· Support individual disaster savings accounts for at-risk individuals and families.

· Develop training for residents, community organizations and government officials on potential risk and mitigation activities.

We learned after Hurricane Katrina that a critical need for small businesses was a quick infusion of cash to reopen as quickly as possible. Foundation for Louisiana, which has invested more than $40 million in disaster relief and recovery, also will work with business organizations in affected areas, to get money into the hands of worthy small businesses as quickly as possible.

Recent Rapid Response Fund Grantees
Through the generosity of foundations, businesses and individual donors, FFL was able to provide 17 grants to organizations that responded to the Great Flood of 2016, allowing them to expand services and respond to emergent issues in Baton Rouge. For example:

· STAR (Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response) — A grant of $40,000 allowed STAR to hire an additional counselor to support victims of violence who were also affected by the flood. This completely eliminated the waiting list that had grown dramatically following the flood.

· Save the Children US — A grant of $50,000 hired a Resilience Coordinator to plan and network the delivery of age appropriate psychosocial support to children affected by the flood.

· Upbring (Lutheran Social Services Disaster Response) — A grant of $15,000 provided case management and housing support to approximately 20 families still living in hotel rooms nearly six months after the flooding.

· MidCity Redevelopment Alliance — A challenge grant of $12,500 is supporting the completion of a dormitory to support volunteer housing. A partnership between six rebuilding organizations, this Volunteer House will be able to support up to 7,300 single night stays per year.

· East Baton Rouge Council on Aging — A $25,000 grant provided 254 services hours of counseling and 160 appliances to flood affected seniors.

We continue to support activities throughout the state that support responses to emergent issues and disasters.

We hope we can count on your support to help build resiliency and preparedness within New Orleans and Louisiana.

Equitable Disaster Response Framework
“Disasters are said to affect everyone equally. Yet we know that those people who are economically vulnerable before a disaster, are even more marginalized and vulnerable after a disaster. We are committed to addressing preparedness and mitigation before a disaster hits and to supporting equitable recovery after. We also recognize that for many communities, disasters are more than just weather events; they include the impacts of climate change and the loss of innocent lives to police violence. We are reminded by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his letter from a Birmingham jail, ‘We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.’ These are times for courage, unabridged love for humanity and laser-focused attention on practices that work to ensure everyone receives justice and safety.” — Flozell Daniels Jr., Foundation for Louisiana’s CEO.

With nearly 12 years of experience in community-focused disaster relief and recovery, Foundation for Louisiana (FFL) stands ready to support communities across the state as they struggle with disasters of all kinds. While still evolving, the Equitable Disaster Resilience Framework (EDRF) undergirds the foundation’s philosophy and decision-making process related to disaster work.

Key components of the EDRF are:
· Racial equity is at the core of developing a response framework for disasters in Louisiana. Additionally, intersecting issues (age, ability, gender, sexual orientation, English literacy etc.) must be addressed in creating a plan to address inequitable impacts of disasters.

· Individuals and families have the right to maintain their dignity amidst disaster. Their knowledge of what is right for them and their family is paramount.

· Investing in preparedness and resilience building activities can reduce inequity and increased sustainability.

· Improving access to economic resources and opportunity – including building social capital and improving external social ties – in advance of disasters provides the greatest opportunities for resilience and enhances the ability of communities to return and rebuild.

· Providing financial support to strengthen local, on-the-ground organizing efforts builds high-impact disaster response — now and through the critical long-term disaster recovery and rebuilding phases.

· Understanding how to address impacts of climate change and disasters can come from grassroots wisdom as well as technical expertise.

· A multi-pronged approach to recovery creates more enduring outcomes for Louisiana families.