‘Dillard Cares’ seeks to aid victims of Great Storm

NEW ORLEANS (Oct. 6, 2016)  – DU student Kristopher Allmon recalls wading through floodwaters for 2 miles with family members before they hopped into an 18-wheeler for rescue after his Baton Rouge home took on 6.5 feet of water.

The chemistry senior has a story with which many in New Orleans can identify from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but Allmon’s memory is more recent: the Great Flood of 2016 in the greater Baton Rouge area in mid-August.

He is one of about 60 Dillard students known to have been affected by the flood, according to the Rev. Earnest Salsberry, university chaplain.

To show support for families like Allmon’s whose lives have been devastated by this event, the second phase of the “Dillard Cares” campaign is under way, with donations being accepted through Oct. 15, according to Salsberry.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, has reported that 109,398 people or households have applied for housing help needed after the flood that affected some 30 parishes, and 25,000 flood insurance claims filed for what the American Red Cross called the worst natural disaster since downgraded Hurricane Sandy (then a cyclone) struck New Jersey in 2012. At least 13 deaths were blamed on the flood here.

Salsberry said the first phase was a trip by DU freshmen Aug. 18 to Baton Rouge to distribute clothes, hair products, body products and cleaning supplies.

Of his home in Monticello subdivision, Allmon said, “We lost all four our cars, clothes, deep freezers, carpets, tubs…everything.” Even so, he added, his family was fortunate to be one of about 20 percent in his neighborhood to have flood insurance.

“The best thing about coming to Dillard was…I got a place to stay,” Allmon said.

The family of four, including parents Rhonda and Raymond Allmon, and his younger brother Kaleb, are living in a condo and expect renovations of their home to be completed in January.

“I miss the memories of our home,” he said. “The material things are things we can get back, but we’ve been living in that house for the past 16 years, and I know it won’t look or feel the same.”

Salsberry said the “Dillard Cares” campaign was created to ensure that no member of the community goes through events like the flood alone. He sent an email to all Dillard faculty and students requesting support in an effort to donate supplies over four weeks. For the third week, Oct. 2-8, clothing is requested; for week four, Oct. 9-15, bedding and miscellaneous household items will be accepted. (School supplies and toiletries were sought the first two weeks.)

All items can be dropped off in the Office of the Chaplain, although Salsberry said other locations may be announced later.

(Brittany Henderson contributed to this report.)