ALEXANDRIA, La., Sept. 3, 2017 : Following what some are saying will be the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history, thousands have been forced from their homes in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
Children and families are seeking refuge in Texas as well as neighboring Louisiana. As of this weekend, the global humanitarian organization is expanding its emergency response into the Bayou State, deploying a team of Head Start staff to Louisiana State University's Agricultural Center facility in Alexandria, where a mega-shelter has been established.
On Saturday, Save the Children distributed infant and toddler supplies - including portable cribs and sheets, strollers, baby hygiene kits and portable washbasins - to more than 50 families who have sought shelter at the LSU AgCenter. Governor John Bel Edwards visited Save the Children's distribution area, where he spoke with Caine Cortellino, a senior specialist for Save the Children's humanitarian response team. Cortellino oversees the organization's distribution of supplies during disasters and explained to Governor Edwards the types of items distributed, which facilitate a parent's care for their child while in a shelter.
For Cortellino, it was one year and one week to the day since he landed in Baton Rouge to respond to the devastating floods last summer. He shared this with Governor Edwards, who expressed thanks to Cortellino and the Save the Children team for all they are doing to help children and families during this disaster.
Save the Children has also opened a children's area within the mega-shelter. This area serves as a safe, well-supervised, recreational space where children can play, socialize and begin to recover from the disaster, while allowing their parents to concentrate on addressing the family's immediate and longer-term needs. In addition to supporting Child-Friendly Spaces within the mega-shelter at Houston's NRG Stadium, Save the Children is operating two Child-Friendly Spaces, a Parent Baby Area as well as a Youth Friendly Space in Houston's George R. Brown Convention Center mega-shelter.
Save the Children has begun community outreach to a number of smaller shelters in both Louisiana and Texas, staff are assessing needs, helping with translation and connecting families with essential resources.
Save the Children also leads Head Start and Early Head Start programs in Jefferson Davis and Rapides Parishes, serving a combined total of more than 1,000 children and families.
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