We began assisting victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita immediately following the storms. We served our clients as Lutheran Social Services Disaster Response (LSSDR). While our name has changed to Upbring Disaster Response, we remain diligent to our mission to serve those impacted by disasters in the Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana areas.
From 2005–2008, we, as Lutheran Social Services Disaster Response (LSSDR), coordinated the work of 39,710 volunteers from across the country who helped to repair and rebuild homes damaged or destroyed by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. From Port Arthur, Texas, to New Orleans, Louisiana, to Biloxi, Mississippi, volunteers contributed over 1.7 million hours in rebuilding communities, mucking out and repairing nearly 7,600 homes, and completely rebuilding 2,675 homes. In Gulfport, Mississippi, our agency also partnered with Habitat for Humanity to rebuild over 50 homes in the Forest Heights neighborhood. As part of this work, we housed the majority of these volunteers in LSSDR-run volunteer camps, providing hospitality, shelter, showers, meals and gathering space for volunteers.
Disaster Case Management
Our agency provided supportive disaster case management services to 10,615 households during the Hurricane Katrina recovery. Of those households, 7,127 of them were served through our participation in the national Katrina Aid Today (KAT) disaster case management program. KAT was a national consortium led by the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) with nine national partner agencies, including Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR).
As the regional affiliate agency of LDR, we provided workers to:
- Assess Katrina survivors’ unmet disaster-related needs.
- Develop recovery plans in partnership with survivors.
- Connect survivors to available resources so as to complete their recovery.
LSSDR KAT case managers successfully connected survivors to over $6.8 million in services and provided nearly $1.8 million in direct financial assistance to our clients. These funds met the needs of survivors for furniture, appliances, clothing and utility deposits.
In partnership with Habitat for Humanity International, we opened and ran the Habitat Family Support Call Center, screening hurricane-affected applicants for local Habitat for Humanity housing. This was done through a call center in Austin, Texas. Pre-screened applicants were then sent to the local Habitat chapters in Beaumont and Houston, Texas, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Gulfport, Mississippi, for further processing and final selection as Habitat homeowners. The Habitat Family Support Call Center screened nearly 1,500 applicants, submitted 183 full applications to local Habitat chapters, with 63 percent of those applicants approved for Habitat homes.
Our Disaster Case Management Contract was in effect until January 2015. We continued to assist our clients with long-term recovery even after the end of that contract.
Emotional & Spiritual Care
Our agency provided a number of supportive emotional and spiritual care services throughout the recovery of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, particularly for children. We ran 68 Camp NOAHs, a multi-day “day camp” for children survivors of disaster. Over 1,400 volunteers worked 70,600 hours to provide these supportive services to 3,318 children. We also provided individual and family counseling to Katrina survivors, through a generous grant from the McCormick Tribune Foundation. This program provided nearly 2,000 individual counseling sessions, 188 family sessions and 10 group sessions. Through a grant from the AARP, we provided supportive group counseling to 189 seniors through 27 different local groups. LSSDR emotional and spiritual care staff also provided over 3,100 counseling sessions to survivors of both hurricanes.