Local Firms Lend Hand in Lake Charles

By The National Guard – https://www.flickr.com/photos/thenationalguard/50298531701/, CC BY 2.0

“Picture those videos of neighborhoods leveled by tornados, except the damage in Lake Charles, spans a 30-mile wide area from the coast to 50 miles inland.”

That’s how local business owner, Scott Phillips, described the destruction wrought by Hurricane Laura last month in Lake Charles. Phillips and several other businesses dispatched crews to Lake Charles to help with the cleanup.

“They’ll be at it for months,” said Phillips, who owns the New Orleans AdvantaClean franchise, which specializes in water damage cleanup.

Another local business owner agreed with Phillips about the scale of destruction and daunting recovery tasks ahead.

“It’ll be a long road to recovery,” said Matt Brown, President of Enterprise Staffing, a New Orleans staffing agency that often sends recovery workers into disaster zones.

A month after landfall, residents in southwest Louisiana are still picking up the pieces. The storm was the strongest to hit Louisiana since 1856, and damage from the hurricane is estimated to be over $10 billion.

Brown, who started coordinating relief efforts in Lake Charles within 48 hours of the storm’s landfall, said the process has been difficult. Brown scouted areas of need and set up recruiting for workers in nearby Lafayette, with Lake Charles also providing a significant amount of employees.

So far, the Enterprise and AdvantaClean teams have helped start the recovery process at two stores, an eye surgery center, a Baptist church, an apartment complex, and 25 homes.

They’ve also pitched in on critical infrastructure projects. The Enterprise team helped keep temporary power on at the Lake Charles airport, a key conduit for personnel and materials. They also repaired a Baptist Church that served as a distribution point for needed supplies in the community.

“The whole thing had shifted on its foundation,” Phillips said of the severity of the damage to First Baptist Church in Westlake, LA.

Brown estimates there are at least six months of work left in Lake Charles before things begin to look normal again. Until then, the New Orleans businesses expect to keep sending help.

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