Company Trip to Lafayette Helps Families Hit by Flood

Copeland’s of New Orleans – Atlanta has a long history of community involvement and giving back to the Atlanta-area communities where our guests and our employees live.

We recently had the opportunity to give back to our Louisiana family as well.

After the August storms in southern Louisiana resulted in catastrophic flooding, destroying thousands of houses and businesses, a team from the Atlanta-area Copeland’s stores loaded up an RV and a utility trailer and trekked the 1,315 miles round trip to help families in need. 

Baton Rouge, August 2016

Thirteen people were killed in the floods, which also caused at least $9 billion in damages. Nearly two months later, state and federal officials are struggling to administer temporary shelters and deliver food and other relief, but they can’t do it alone.

That’s why nonprofits, community groups, and volunteers like the team from Copeland’s are helping out.

The relief team was put together by Bill Goudey, President & CEO of the Atlanta-area Copeland’s stores in Cumberland and Kennesaw. The relief expedition was made up of “front of the house” and “back of the house” employees who wanted to help.

“We got donations from our local community (in the Marietta area),” Goudey says. “We filled that 12-foot trailer pretty much to the top with building materials and relief supplies.”

The group left Georgia early on Aug. 23, bound for Louisiana. Goudey says once they arrived, everyone witnessed a level of devastation that wasn’t being reported in the national news media.

“We got to Lafayette a week after the flood waters started receding, but it was clear when you were driving down I-10 and I-12 coming across from the east. You could see all the creeks and rivers that had grown,” Goudey said. “Creeks that were normally 15 feet wide had widened to 100 feet or more.

“There were just swaths of destruction… Uprooted trees with exposed roots on the sides of the roads and all the streams had become raging rivers.”

The team from Copeland’s focused on helping a former employee who had moved from Georgia to Lafayette a few years ago.

“He had nine inches of water in his home. He lost most of his furniture and any belongings that were on the floors.”

Incredibly, some of the Copeland’s employees who made up the relief expedition did not even know the former employee or his family (since he hadn’t worked for Copeland’s in several years). They just wanted to be a part of the effort to help out strangers in need halfway across the country.           

“Our former employee and his neighbors went through the relief supplies to get what they could use, and everything else went to the Red Cross,” Goudey said. “I’d say he, his family, and their neighbors were really overwhelmed and grateful at the fact that we were able to come and be of some help, although they have a long way to go before they are back to normal.”

Homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover flood damage, and since the storm (the worst natural disaster in the U.S. since Hurricane Sandy six years ago) was a 75-year flood, most people didn’t have optional flood insurance.

“There’s a lot of people down there in that position,” Goudey said. “The limitations on FEMA relief mean they won’t get anywhere near the cost and the damages that these families will incur.”

The Copeland’s Crewe got back home to Georgia Aug. 26, having traveled over 1,300 miles (round-trip) to help a member of the Copeland’s family, as well as people they’d never met, in the hard-hit communities of southwestern Louisiana.

And the need continues. The Red Cross estimates recovery efforts will total at least $30 million. If you are able to help, we here at Copeland’s want to remind you of the following organizations where your donation can help right now:

  • American Red Cross: Providing medical assistance and supplies, as well as meals and shelters for displaced residents. Donate by visiting the organization’s website or by texting the word LAFLOODS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
  • The United Way of Southeast Louisiana: Donations for flood relief can be made through the organization’s website.
  • Convoy of Hope: Providing food, water, equipment and relief supplies. Donate through the website and specify that you want your donation to go to Louisiana flood relief efforts.
  • Baton Rouge Area Foundation: Accepting donations through its website and directing them to community non-profits who need it.