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Damage to the warehouse on Tuesday, August 16, 2016.

When the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank’s facility received 4 feet of water from the August flooding, we knew we had our work cut out for us. Once we were finally able to get into the warehouse, the sight of all the damage to our warehouse, offices and equipment was devastating. Marks were on the walls from where dirty flood water had rushed in. Food that was going to be distributed to individuals in need, was ruined and scattered throughout the warehouse. Canned goods and other nonperishable items were lifted from shelves and pallets and dropped far from where they were picked up. Desks, computers and file cabinets were moved and waterlogged.

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From left to right, back: Alex Kolb, John Tate, Lana Venable, Stephanie Cargile. Front: Mike Manning, Charlene Montelaro, Bob Johnston, Stephen Butler, Kristine Larsen, Sara Rolfes

Despite these challenges, we have been blessed by generous donations and volunteers, which have allowed us to move quickly. ExxonMobil is one organization that not only sent volunteers to muck and gut our facility, but they also made a significant financial donation. Within just a couple weeks, contractors, volunteers, and workers have removed damaged product and ruined equipment has been hauled out. Now, the Food Bank is empty.

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Bare shelves in the warehouse.

Although it will take time to get back into the office space of the facility, we are hopeful that we will be able to get into the warehouse soon. Tests to our cooler and freezer are underway to see if they are operating correctly. Once the sanitation test results come back negative, we will be able to get a better idea of when we can safely put food back on the shelves. Our mission is to feed those who are hungry, and we are grateful for the support we have received from within our own community and across the country to do just that.