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1120 20th Street NW, Suite 300N Washington, D.C. 20036


B’nai B’rith International has been busy in Baton Rouge, La., continuing to help with the clean-up from this summer’s flooding that devastated the area.

Disaster Relief Committee Chair Harold Steinberg and his wife Margie have made several trips to Baton Rouge to gut houses, tearing them down to the studs so they can be rebuilt. 

Harold, Margie and their son, Eric, recently represented B’nai B’rith among a group of volunteers from Corporation for National and Community Service (AmeriCorps) and NECHAMA Jewish Response to Disaster gutting homes in Denham Springs.

What follows is a first person account from a grateful resident in Denham Springs, detailing the work of B’nai B’rith, AmeriCoprs and NECHAMA in the cleaning of his home. 

During the flood of August 2016 in South Louisiana, my house in Denham Springs was devastated. For weeks following the flood, my daughter and I cleared out from the house as much debris as we could, but there was still furniture and two refrigerators that we could not move. I contacted an organization for help and was waiting to hear from them, but they were overwhelmed.

On Monday, October 24 I talked to a friend, Cathy Newman, on social media and mentioned that I was still trying to get help clearing out and gutting my house. I found out Cathy is a volunteer with NECHAMA, an organization I had not heard of, so she offered to turn in my information to see if they would be able to help. NECHAMA was in their last week of deployment in my area. The same day I received a call from Meghen with NECHAMA and she and another volunteer came to my house to assess the damage. I remember their positive attitude and the statement they made to me, “We can do this.” It was the best news I had heard in a long time. On Friday, October 28 Meghan called me and said she had a team ready to come to my house.

Supported by a team of AmeriCorps volunteers, they began clearing my house. The volunteers faced some challenges in my house, but they worked with determination and teamwork. We thought we had retrieved all items from the house which could be salvaged, but the volunteers actually found a few more items which had not been damaged and set them to the side. By the end of the day on Saturday, my house was cleared and gutted including walls, ceilings, and floors. The volunteers who came to my house worked harder than many paid workers do. They were organized, efficient, courteous, and compassionate. My house was taken care of by a group of fantastic people.