Shell is a longtime sponsor of RTNO’s annual October Build event, a week long effort by teams of volunteers to restore and repair homes across New Orleans.
A group of volunteers from Shell will meet up with RTNO staff members at One Shell Square on the morning of Friday, August 26, to head into the heart of the area hardest hit by the Great Flood of 2016.
“Many can remember when everyone in Louisiana rallied together to help New Orleans after Katrina,” offshore platform Brutus Operations Manager Mandy Brown said. “Now it’s Shell’s turn to step up and support those in need, those same people who helped pave the way for Shell to come home and keep New Orleans as the heart of our Deepwater operations. Shell has been a part of Louisiana for more than a century and now it’s time to show that we know what it means to be a good neighbor.”
RTNO Interim Director Catherine Crowell said representatives from Shell’s 2016 October Build team reached out to her this week to see if they could also help residents of flooded areas recover.
As part of RTNO’s overall effort to help organize relief work in St. Amant, a hard-hit area near Gonzales, Crowell directed the Shell volunteers to a cul-de-sac lined with rental properties that all took on significant water damage.
“The goal is to help those who are least likely to get assistance,” Crowell said. “As we saw in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, residents that rented were greatly affected, and they were not qualified for assistance because they didn’t own their property. The landlords were also left out of a lot of assistance programs, so what ended up happening is we had an affordable housing shortage, which we are still dealing with 11 years later.”
Volunteers with the NOLA Tree Project have already removed the contents of the homes, lining the quiet residential street with piles of soggy bedding, waterlogged furniture, and family artifacts lost forever to floodwaters.
The Shell volunteers will work on gutting the houses, relying on RTNO’s extensive experience gutting and rebuilding houses after Katrina.
Crowell said she is excited to get the opportunity to leverage that hard earned experience while bringing the energy of October Build’s corporate sponsors to flooded areas, especially after seeing first hand how much trouble rental property owners and tenants had rebuilding after Katrina.
“Those buildings take a long time to come back, so you increase the housing crisis for renters,” she said. “What we’re trying to do is focus on these rental properties so that these people who have lost everything can have safe housing as soon as possible and so they will be displaced for the least amount of time.”