NEW ORLEANS -- Teenagers from ‘Shirts Across America’ of Seattle swarmed like carpenter ants through a New Orleans East home, cleaning up the tornado debris so the owner can start repairs.
The teens were shocked at the destruction, but their energy was welcome.
"It's taken about 72 of us to do all of these houses, and we've done about 25 of them now,” said volunteer Sophia Merlino.
Merlino said it felt good to help, and although the work was tiring, it was worth it.
"They made a big difference, for me, because they cleared out all the debris behind my house, my neighbor's house here, and they're working on my neighbor across the street," said tornado victim Ronald Anderson.
They're helping SBP, formerly the St. Bernard Project, which has added tornado relief to hurricane recovery, and flood repairs. SBP just surveyed the damage in New Orleans East.
"Out of 3300 homes surveyed, we found that 781 were damaged, and out of that just under 400 were moderately to severely damaged," said SBP’s Elizabeth Egle.
Those in the area still can’t believe the damage.
"Unbelievable,” Anderson said. “It's still like a dream, a nightmare really."
SBP is hoping to make sure that all the homes that were damaged are repaired within two years. The problem is, they still don't know who has insurance, who doesn't, who needs help, who doesn't. They need to hear from you.
"We think that best case scenario it will cost about $7 million to rebuild, and worst case scenario, just over $16 million," Egle said.
As SBP organizes the long-term tornado repair effort, they hope the community will get involved.
"We're going to need volunteers for a long time,” Egle said. “We're going to need donations."
"Every little bit helps, and the more of us that get together, the more effort, I'm saying every little piece helps," Anderson concluded.
To volunteer or donate to SBP, call the agency at 504-277-6831, or visit their website at http://www.sbpusa.org.
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