“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'” — Fred Rogers
If you were not impacted directly by the flooding in Louisiana and are not close enough to help out, a good place to donate money is https://www.classy.org/events/louisiana-flood-relief-fund/e91206
You would think terrible weather events would be old hat for Louisianians, but we just experienced, and in some places still are experiencing, an unprecedented catastrophe. Rather than a hurricane or a named tropical storm or even any strong winds, we just had rain. An unimaginable amount of rain. Rain calculated as occurring once in a 1,000 years (i.e., 0.1% probability of occurring). Due to a freakish set of circumstances, we had 4 to 7 trillion gallons (reports vary) of water dumped on us in 3 days, which is more rain than Los Angeles has seen in the last 4 years combined. Our waterways were simply not able to handle the massive volume of rain. It even reversed the flow of water, causing tributaries that normally drain into certain rivers to instead flow out from those rivers. The result was record highs, by a large magnitude, for many of these waterways and flooding in areas that even survived the infamous 1983 flood without a hitch. Tens of thousands of people have been displaced and many homes were destroyed, most without flood insurance. Saddest of all, at least 11 people lost their lives.
Mr. Rogers had it right, though. Always look for the helpers. They did not just show up – they came running. Even people who were in danger of flooding themselves dropped everything to help others. Our police, fire fighters, National Guard, and civilians showed up in droves, working around the clock as they desperately tried to save everyone. The flotilla of civilian boats that showed up to help has been dubbed the Cajun Navy – a marvelous site. Many rushed to donate and/or volunteer at local shelters. Local business Celtic Studios opened its massive studio to house thousands of people in need of shelter, food, a cot to sleep in, and other sundry items. We could not be more proud of our fellow Louisianians.
Thankfully, both Kevin and I and our families were spared. We will do what we can to aid in the clean up and rebuilding effort. For now, the best aid we can offer is information for anyone affected. You have probably come across links to information on Facebook or other sources, but we thought it might be helpful to include a few relevant bits of information.
The Federal Government has declared a disaster area for 30 Parishes. If you live in one of these parishes and were impacted you need to keep track of all of your expenses and losses. Then provide this support to your CPA at tax time. Here is a link to IRS Information Regarding the Louisiana Flood https://www.irs.gov/uac/tax-relief-for-victims-of-severe-storms-flooding-in-louisiana
Whether you have Flood Insurance or will be filing a FEMA claim, document, document, document before doing any clean up or repair work. Take photos with the time stamp activated and document time/date and exact location of photograph. Document the brand name, type and even serial numbers where possible of all lost items and take photographs of the items, again with time stamp on.
Be very wary of any contractor that comes to your home unannounced or without you calling them. Research all licences and request copies of insurance certificates. If a project is large enough some cities even require a license with them. So a contractor may need to be licenced in Louisiana and the city you live in. Check all of their licenses. Request referrals and double check them. It is unfortunate, but now is a time when crooks prey on desperate people. Do not pay any contractors with cash so you will have a paper trail of all of your payments. Get everything in writing.
Be alert for vendors who come to your home unannounced. If someone says they are from the Power Company and you have no issues then ask for their Drivers License and Company ID. Vendors should not be wondering around unannounced on your property. Vendors also should not be asking for personal information. Never pay a vendor with cash and always get a receipt.
Please forward this post to your friends and family, even if they have not been impacted because they likely know someone that has been.