Mercury One has always been committed to helping those in their time of need.
Mercury One’s Director of Disaster Relief traveled to Louisiana in 2016 to work with our partners on the ground and saw, firsthand, the magnitude of the destruction this state had endured.
The people of Louisiana had faced incredible loss:
- 145,000 homes had been damaged or destroyed
- 300,000 people had been affected and displaced
- 13 people had died
- 20 Parishes had been affected and were flooded with over 6.9 trillion gallons of water, totaling $30.4 billion in damage
One area of Louisiana affected most by the flooding was the city of Denham Springs, Baton Rouge. Here, 90% of the homes throughout the area had become flooded after taking on water during the historic flood. The main roadway (Highway 190) was washed away by the floodwaters leaving people in the community stranded. During the devastating floods, only 7 businesses within the whole city were able to stay open for business while the remainder of the city sat under water.
Mercury One was on the ground ready to assess the needs of the victims of this massive event. We worked with our partners to address the most urgent needs of the second phase of this disaster. Read more about our work with our partners during our disaster relief efforts here in Lousiana below.
Thanks to the generosity of our supporters and donors Mercury One was able to effectively help those affected by the Louisiana flooding. Thank you for your continued support of Mercury One and our disaster reliefs efforts.
Check out news updates from the 2016 Lousiana flooding below:
On the Ground: Day One
Mercury One’s Director of Disaster Relief began their visit by meeting with Pastor Mike at one of his churches, The Healing Place, in Baton Rouge. Saturday was normally their day of service, but on this day, in the wake of the disaster, the church was full of volunteers – various organizations, many individuals, several church groups, and even the LSU track team. The morning was kicked off by a prayer for safety led by Pastor Mike.
At the main campus of The Healing Place, trucks pulling trailers were lined up on one side of the church delivering food and goods that were desperately needed by the victims of this flood. What was amazing about this act was that these trucks were driven by people from all over the United States bringing whatever they felt was needed – these were simply Good Samaritans acting on their own accord.
At another campus of The Healing Place in Denham Springs, the parking lot was bustling – FEMA and Operation Blessing had set up camp to prepare hot meals, Austin Disaster Relief was on site for counseling and prayer and there were lines of cars on both sides of the church dropping off and accepting necessities.
According to Pastor Mike, this building had been purchased to become their 10th church location. It is a large warehouse style building, and it had just been gutted when the rains came. This location received the most water – over six feet.
Mercury One’s Director of Disaster Relief recalls walking into the building and feeling the hot, sticky Louisiana air being moved around by large fans:
“Paper products personal care items, baby food and formula, diapers and canned food were all being neatly stored and displayed on the tables and shelves Mercury One funded to our partner, Somebody Cares, Inc. to get them started. It was a flurry of activity…volunteers helping to pull needs and necessities, loading shopping carts and delivering those items to those waiting in their vehicles. Brad, from The Healing Place Church was talking but I wasn’t hearing what he was saying…his voice was background noise. At that moment, I felt the Holy Spirit in the room and broke down. It was truly an amazing experience. It was at that point that I knew we needed to focus our energy and funds on this distribution center. It is truly providing for this community that was hit the hardest.”
This distribution center, which was being so efficiently operated in this time of need, kept up long after the disaster has run its course; Pastor Mike said that the building is much more than he needs to start his church, and he wants to serve the community in more than one way. During this time, 1,600 volunteers a week were helping with distribution needs between the three locations that were operating in this capacity.
The Healing Place Dream Center
In 2007, Pastor Mike inherited the keys to a church in the most violent area in all of Baton Rouge, which he decided to name The Dream Center. One spiritual leader of this church is a young man who came to the church with his brother looking for help. With no father in the picture and a mother addicted to drugs, they were fending for themselves. Fast forward several years, and now each of them serves in the church today in some leadership capacity.
The Dream Center completed renovations to their sanctuary only three weeks prior to the floods, a project that cost them over $250,000. When the rains came, the church was flooded with three feet of water and everything needed to be replaced.
This location acted as a distribution center for cleaning products, hot meals, and bottled water. Well over 1,000 meals were served daily, and each person was given a case of water. This is truly one of the poorest areas of the city in a zip code that is recorded as having the highest crime rate.
Operation BBQ’s 1 Millionth Meal
The founders of Operation BBQ, Stan, and Will, formed the organization back in 2011 in response to a need for relief efforts in a tornado-stricken Joplin, Missouri. As a result of a $50,000 donation from Mercury One, Operation BBQ was able to get to Louisiana and stay on longer than they would normally be able to stay.
In Louisiana alone, they served over 250,000 meals to shelters, first responders and by going door-to-door serving hot meals to those who lost their only form of transportation in the flooding. During their time in Louisiana, they hit their 1 millionth meal served. The event of their 1 millionth meal was attended by Louisiana’s Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser and the President of Tangipahoa Parish, Robby Miller. Mercury One’s Director was warmly greeted at the event by many in attendance:
“What I was most surprised with was the warm reception I received from the burly men standing over the barbecue pits that recognized the logo on my shirt. One of the men even cried, saying that they would not have been there to serve in Louisiana if it had not been for Mercury One. I also heard this repeatedly from Stan & Will – I was told specifically by Will that they did not have enough funding to go to Louisiana, so the funding Mercury One sent allowed them to go and set up shop. We also sent them another infusion of funds to allow them to stay longer to feed this community.”
On the Ground: Day Two
On the second day of the visit, Mercury One spent time with our partner, Team Rubicon, who looks to give veterans a sense of purpose after time in the military. Veterans have an innate ability to respond to crisis and keep composure even in times of tragedy, so naturally, Team Rubicon is a first responder to disasters – they focus on the demolition of homes and commercial properties by getting them contractor ready.
Team Rubicon is an especially effective team, as they focus heavily on salvaging what they can to save the homeowners as much money in the rebuilding process as they can. Since many of the homes they were working on here were built in the 60’s, the woodwork and cabinetry were of a much higher quality and finish than what we see today, so Team Rubicon worked to pick out pieces that were not warped or splintered to save for the rebuild. They also looked to save bathtubs that were of a higher quality material than fiberglass. This process can save the homeowner anywhere from $30,000-$60,000 in rebuilding costs. Oftentimes, this is the difference between a homeowner deciding to rebuild and stay or walk away.
The Director of Disaster Relief shares her experience working with Team Rubicon:
“Kirk Jackson, Team Rubicon’s communications and media coordinator, gave me the opportunity to see, firsthand, what Team Rubicon does in the field. I spent the day with two different teams doing ‘muck outs’ in homes – a muck out is another term for ‘debris removal.’ As the guys and gals ripped out drywall, I assisted by shoveling it into a wheelbarrow and hauling it to the curb. This went on for several hours…I have a new respect for what they do. This is a solid organization that is 90% volunteer-based with a heart for humanitarianism. We are proud to partner with them.”
What Mercury One Has Provided So Far:
- Funding to cover the cost of 250,000 hot meals
- 1,500 Educational kits (backpacks with school supplies)
- Funding for the furnishing of the Denham Springs Distribution Center
- 13 truckloads of bottled water
- 10 truckloads of personal care & baby items, paper products, canned food, cleaning supplies, etc.
- 10 pallets of My Patriot Supply MREs (Meals Ready to Eat)
- 42 – $100 gift cards to Lafayette, LA deputies and their families
As we moved into Phase 2 of this process and assessed the needs of this state based on our visit and what our partners on the ground were telling us, it was determined it would be a long process and Mercury One would be there to help for the long run.
We wouldn’t be able to do what we love to do, restore lives, without our generous donors. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for donating to support our disaster relief efforts.
News Update - 8/22/16
Mercury One worked with our partners, Gleaning for the World, My Patriot Supply, Operation BBQ, and Somebody Cares to continue our important and much-needed work in Louisiana.
Mercury One has funded the setup of a warehouse for Somebody Cares, which will help empower the communities that have lost so much to become whole again. With the help of Somebody Cares, we have also provided $100 gift cards to 42 Lafayette, Louisiana deputies whose own homes have been damaged by the flooding – these courageous souls have been actively assisting their community for days.
Our funding has also helped Gleaning for the World to provide 13 truckloads of bottled water and 8 truckloads of personal care items and cleaning supplies. We have also funded several thousand personal care kits and educational kits for returning school children.
Finally, Mercury One funded the most essential need in Louisiana at the time – hot meals. Mercury One provided over 70,000 meals in the last week. We were involved in helping to fund Operation BBQ, who had provided over 130,000 meals throughout the course of this disaster relief effort – however, we needed to do more. Operation BBQ’s two greatest needs are volunteers and canned food items: to continue operation, 45-60 volunteers were needed each day and at least 1,000 cans of green beans, corn and/or baked beans were needed.
We thank our partners and our faithful audience who stepped up to the plate to help in these times of crisis.
News Update - 9/19/16
Mercury One is still heavily engaged with our partners on the ground in Louisiana. The cleanup process was painstakingly slow and overwhelming due to the sheer magnitude of the damage to homes, businesses, and neighborhoods:
- 144,000 FEMA applications have been filed for flood damage claims with more being filed every day
- 109,000 homes were flooded, 6,000 businesses were flooded and 90,000 cars were flooded
- There was an estimated $3.8 billion in damages to homes
- Business losses had been estimated at $3 billion
- There were $2.2 billion in commercial losses
These figures came from FEMA and the Louisiana State Emergency Operations Center.
We continued our work on the ground while looking toward the future – especially during the upcoming holiday season – to work to find the most efficient and impactful use of our funds.
As always, we thank our donors for giving us the opportunity to do this work – we couldn’t do it without you.
How can you help Mercury One’s disaster relief efforts?
By donating to Mercury One’s Humanitarian Fund, you help us provide humanitarian aid and relief in the areas of veteran support, natural disasters, Israeli humanitarian initiatives, human trafficking, and domestic abuse.
Mercury One is eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions in accordance with Internal Revenue Code Section 170. No goods or services were provided by Mercury One in exchange for your donation. Mercury One, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Federal Tax ID #45-3929881. Your donation may be considered tax-deductible. Please consult with a tax attorney or an accountant for specific guidance.