Great progress has been made at the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank since the August flooding. Hundreds of volunteers have given time, generous donations of food and funds have been received and, as a result, countless meals have been distributed to those in need.
In September, after four-weeks of mucking, cleaning and sanitizing, your Food Bank received the “all clear” for warehouse operations to move back to our facility. This process of cleaning and sanitizing was no easy task and came with a price tag of approximately $2 million.
Volunteers worked alongside our contractors and other community partners to remove flood debris that had been scattered throughout the building. Waterlogged food, ruined supplies and destroyed equipment were moved with bobcats into piles and out onto our docks. Many hours were spent removing drywall to an 8-feet high level throughout all offices and our warehouse.
With strict protocols and standards from the Louisiana Department of Health, your Food Bank was required to bring in a number of specialists to ensure proper sanitation, ventilation and care to, once again, put food back on our shelves safely. After the wreckage was removed, our industrial hygienist developed cleaning protocols and our cleaning and our maintenance contractors, helped to bring the warehouse to code.
Fortunately, throughout this process, we have received support from our local community and partners across the country. So far, the Food Bank has applied for reimbursement of the sanitation and cleanup expenses from FEMA and has been notified of an initial $1.368 million FEMA grant, which will help to cover a portion of total $2 million cleaning expense.
With total financial impact of over $7 million from the flood, there is still much work to be done, however each day we are one step closer to getting back to where the Food Bank was before the flood. With the construction bidding process now completed, we will begin to rebuild and restore our office space. The lowest construction bid for the office restoration came in at an estimated $1.387 million. These costs do not include replacement of trucks, forklifts, office furniture, office supplies and equipment.
This all comes at a time where there are many who need the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank now, more than ever. Many of the people that no longer needed our assistance are now returning in need. We know we are not alone in this rebuilding process, as many have experienced their own loss during the flood. Because of this, your Food Bank is grateful for the support and outpouring of love we continue to receive from such a giving Food Bank family in the greater Baton Rouge area.