Relief Buoys Louisiana Flood Victims - But They Still Need Your Help
On August 8, 2016, Ron and Delaney Bijou* were eagerly welcoming their third child, a beautiful baby girl, into the world.
Four days later, on August 12, hours after they'd come home from the hospital to their newly renovated home, the Bijous were climbing to safety out of their second story window and into a boat, clutching their newborn daughter and two older sons. The floods had taken everything.
“Louisiana folks are used to flooding,” said Missy Pique, a Louisiana Community Ambassador with the Home School Foundation. “The rivers rise every year and may or may not stop at their banks.
“However, none of us were prepared for The Great Flood of 2016. They’re calling this a 1,000-year flood, as it brought water into the center of Baton Rouge—where no water had been before and where families should never have needed flood insurance.”
Still, hope is rising from the receding waters. Homeschooling families affected by the floods are getting relief. In partnership with the Christian Home Educators Fellowship of Louisiana (CHEF of LA), HSF is providing monetary and physical assistance to families in south Louisiana recovering from the floods.
Roger Smith, president of CHEF of LA, and his wife Jan head up the small but incredibly resourceful HSF Louisiana Ambassador Team that includes people like Pique. All of them are Louisiana residents who have seen firsthand the devastation of these floods, which bring back memories of Hurricane Katrina 16 years ago.
“Many went to sleep after watching the water into the early hours of August 12,” Pique reported. “It seemed as though the water was receding. The folks that woke up a few hours later were able to get their cars out as they realized the water was at their doorstep. Some woke up too late and found themselves trapped as water had invaded their home already. They had to wait to be rescued by the Cajun Navy, as we call them—thousands of civilians with boats shuttling stranded families and pets to higher ground.”
For homeschooling families affected by the flooding, the devastation is extensive. “Educational belongings have been lost,” Pique says, “along with most or all of what they own. Their outdoor play equipment is gone, bikes and all. Many families had no insurance—and if they did, they’ve now learned it did not cover the contents of their home.
“Some [families] are now camping in a gutted home with no sheet rock and no kitchen. Others have been blessed with the use of an RV to park in their driveways. Some have moved in with family, squeezed into very tight quarters. They’re faced with rebuilding their homes, and the help from FEMA doesn’t even come close to covering it.”
Quick action and compassionate hearts
In the midst of this ruin, HSF’s Louisiana Ambassadors are here to help. Whenever they learn of a family in need, they interview the family to assess the particular needs of that family and help them apply for an HSF Emergency Response Fund grant. In the Bijous’ case, Missy Pique assisted them in applying, noting that the family needed to not only replace all of their school materials, computer, and printer, but also had desperate need for daily items like diapers and medication.
The first weekend of September, CHEF of Baton Rouge hosted a curricula giveaway at Crosspointe Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, providing free curriculum and games for more than 30 families who needed to replace materials lost to floodwaters. Another HSF Community Ambassador, Nicole Cutrone of CHEF of Baton Rouge, was the primary organizer and force behind the event. Other HSF ambassadors were on hand at the giveaway to help families fill out assistance forms for HSF grants.
“We’ve seen a great outpouring of books and curriculum all through Louisiana and from other states as well. Many homeschool publishers have generously offered to replace or greatly discount materials for these families as well,” Pique says.
“The level of partnership between HSF, CHEF of LA, and other homeschool groups in response to this disaster is unprecedented,” said Ricci Black, HSF’s Ambassador Program Coordinator. “Without the quick action and compassionate hearts of these folks, we wouldn’t have been able to provide support and hope to as many families as we have. I am in awe of the cooperation God brought about between our organizations.”
Families are still applying for assistance to HSF—financial help we're able to offer because of heartfelt donations from people like you.
Thank you for joining our efforts to help these families get back on their feet.
*Names changed for privacy.