In what has been called the worst natural disaster to strike the U.S. since Superstorm Sandy in 2012, costs from the August flooding in Louisiana continues to grow as damages are assessed and some 50 million return to their homes. As of Aug. 24, more than 115,000 people had applied for flood assistance, and FEMA had distributed $127 million in aid to flooded communities.
While LBM dealers in the area are stepping up to pitch in and help rebuild communities, they doing so while facing hardships of their own due to the flooding from storms that dropped up to 31 inches of rain in 15 hours.
At State Lumber & Hardware in Baton Rouge, Kevin Stevens said he had more than a foot and a half of water in his store. A veteran of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Stevens knew he needed to get ahead of the rush for storm recovery-related inventory.
“As we were cleaning up, I started ordering supplies like trash bags, mops and brooms, drywall and mold-control chemicals,” he said. Stevens had four deliveries sent in early to get ahead of the market. As a Do it Best member-partner, he worked with the co-op to schedule emergency deliveries.
At his own store, which had recently completed a store remodel just months prior to the flooding, Stevens said that he can barely keep supplies on hand. “We’re back up and running full speed,” he said. “I have drywall coming to both of my stores every day. It’s a battle to get ahead.”
Stevens also had the foresight to order dehumidifiers and carpet fans to rent. While he has more on order, the first items in have already been rented out.
“As fast as I can get it, it’s running out the door,” he said. Stevens said he anticipates a two-year “at least” clean up and rebuilding period for those affected by the flooding.
Stevens and his employees were all fortunate enough to not have damage to their homes, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t experienced the flooding first hand. A number of contractor customers are also working on their own houses while they service customers. State Lumber & Hardware is keeping them stocked for both jobs.
Early estimates predict the relief effort could cost at least $30 million, a number which could grow as more is learned about the scope and magnitude of the devastation. Already, 13 people have lost their lives in the floods. You can help by making a financial donation by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word LAFLOODS to 90999 to make a $10 donation, or click here.