BRAITHWAITE, La. -- For Al Multani and the rest of a group of student volunteers from Tulane, witnessing the devastation in Braithwaite firsthand Sunday was overwhelming.
“When we pulled up here, we couldn’t believe it,” Multani said. "It's unlike anything I've ever seen, you know. I'm not from around here, so I'm glad we came. I'm glad we came to help. They really need it."
Fighting through rainy weather, more than 150 volunteers fanned out across the Braithwaite Park neighborhood, helping residents begin the grueling process of cleaning out their flood-damaged homes.
"I didn't expect anything this bad,” said Tulane student Joseph Ramos. “Just gutting these houses it's pretty sad going through these people's personal belongings and just, really, they can't save much of any of it and it has to be thrown away."
But it's work that must be done.
That’s why non-profit group St. Paul's Homecoming Center coordinated the effort, to give residents like Trudy LaFrance a much-needed boost.
"You know, it's a disaster, but when something like this happens, I think that brings out the best in people, and this is the best," she said.
After the work was complete, volunteers and residents got a chance to unwind at a fundraising event called "Taste Buds for Braithwaite."
Several area restaurants served up food, while local bands entertained the crowd.
Proceeds from the event will go to Team Braithwaite, a storm-relief organization that is trying to bounce back after a shocking burglary two weeks ago.
Event organizers call it a day of helping and healing.
"We've invited the entire community of Braithwaite, all the volunteers, to just come and to have an afternoon of food and music and the Saints game," said St. Paul’s Director Connie Uddo.
"You know, it's not that we can make them forget about what's happened here, but if I can get them to just to get it off their minds maybe for an hour, maybe for a day, lift their spirits, fill their bellies, you know, that's what we're trying to do," said Zea Rotisserie & Grill Co-Owner Greg Reggio.