Locals lend a hand to flood-ravaged Louisiana

Ryan Hoffman
In this aerial photo over Hammond, Louisiana, flooded homes are seen off of LA-1064 after heavy rains inundated the region on Aug. 13.
Max Becherer / Associated Press |

How to help

Those wishing to volunteer can call 970-984-4333.

Cash donations should be made out to the River Center. Physically donated items can be dropped between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. at the following locations:

• Network Interior Design / Flooring Liquidators, 3768 Colorado 82, Glenwood Springs

• New Hope / La Roca Church, 860 Castle Valley Blvd., New Castle

• Gilco Petroleum Park, 23899 U.S. 6, Rifle

*After hour donations in Rifle can be made 5-8 p.m. at Wing Nutz, located at 2178 Railroad Ave.

Needed items include


Clothes in new or good condition (preferably for a warmer climate)

Bottled water

Nonperishable food items

Pillows and single bed sheets


New or good condition sleeping bags

Battery operated fans

Toiletry items


Batteries of all sizes

As tens of thousands of people in Louisiana take stock of the devastation from widespread floods, a group of residents and businesses in Garfield County are looking to lend a helping hand.

Starting today, people can donate money or needed items — such as clothing, nonperishable foods, bottled water and other materials — at three drop spots located in Glenwood Springs, New Castle and Rifle. Cash donations will go toward purchasing needed items.

“Everything that’s donated will go straight to the people in need. It’s not going to a warehouse and then somewhere else,” said Lee Price, pastor of River Churches and founder of the River Center in New Castle.

Donations will be accepted through Friday, at which point volunteers will prepare the items to be loaded on a truck and hauled to Livingston Parish, just east of Baton Rouge in Louisiana. The group is still seeking volunteers.

Several churches in New Castle along with the River Center, a nonprofit organization, coordinated the relief effort in conjunction with area businesses over the course of several days last week, Price explained.

While roughly 1,400 miles separate the two communities, there is a personal element behind the relief effort.

Earlier this month, torrential rainfall caused devastating floods. State officials estimated 60,000 homes were damaged in the rising waters, and 102,000 people were said to have registered for federal assistance, the Associated Press reported Saturday.

Like many people with friends or family in the state, Robin Vega, pastor of La Roca Church in New Castle, got in contact with his in-laws, who live in Louisiana.

“So in some areas … the waters have receded, and in others the water is still the same,” Vega said.

Although his in-laws came out in better shape than many — a fact attributed to their home being elevated off the ground — the majority of neighbors lost everything, Vega said.

In sharing the information with Price, the two decided to look into possible relief efforts.

“[Robin] shared that with me, and I said, ‘Well, I don’t know if we can do anything, but let’s give it a shot,’” Price said. “And so [I] started making phone calls and saying lots of prayers, and things just started happening.”

Butterfly Xpress Trucking Co. in Silt quickly came forward and donated a semi truck to transport donations. Bill Barhite, who owns the business along with his wife Karen, said it did not take long to jump at the chance to “pay it forward.”

“We’re very spiritual people, and we’ve been very blessed. … That’s where it really truly comes from,” said Barhite, who has experience in trucking into devastated areas. “We’re just really spiritual, and we believe in paying it forward.”

With a major hurdle cleared, Price then started looking for possible drop centers. He reached out to Jody Maloney, owner of Network Interior Design/Flooring Liquidators.

“When Lee calls, people respond,” she said.

Count Maloney in that group. In addition to lending her business, located at 3768 Colorado 82 in Glenwood Springs, as one of the drop locations, Maloney’s employees will package the donations to be shipped. Also, she is donating $1,000 to encourage other businesses to get involved.

Most people probably know somebody in Louisiana, which means there is a personal connection, Maloney said. Aside from that, lending a helping hand is just the right thing to do.

“We’re glad to do it,” she said. “All my people are glad, they’re on board. Everybody is just happy to do it.”

This is not the first time the community has rallied to help those in disaster areas.

Similar efforts were organized when a tornado leveled Moore, Oklahoma, in 2013.

What makes this situation unique, according to Price, is that there is a direct connection to people in Louisiana — Vega’s in-laws are helping coordinate efforts on the ground to make sure that the donated items get to people in need.

Additionally, Vega hopes to recruit volunteers to travel to Louisiana to help with distribution, as well as clean homes ravaged by the floods. Those interested can call Vega at 970-945-1128.

“I think it’s important to note that we’ve got a direct connection to the need, and we’ve got a group of people going from the valley to help,” he said.

“We are really big on neighbors helping neighbors, and so for us that comes from a place of when Jesus says, ‘If you’re going to do two things … love God and love people.’ And he said, ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself,’” Price went on to say. “For us, whether it’s local or it’s on a national scale or international scale, we want to just show that love in tangible ways when needs come.”

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