Louisiana flooding—the United States' worst natural disaster in recent years—continues to wreak havoc for tens of thousands of people.
An estimated 40,000 houses are left damaged. And as waters rose astonishingly high in places that historically haven't experienced flooding, thousands of people located outside of historical flood zones are left to face the damage without flood insurance.
The disaster caught many off guard, and the challenge of recovering from the flood is daunting.
Mike Rea, CEO of Tourism Cares, offers insight on how the group travel industry could help efforts to relieve Louisiana flooding and other natural disasters as they arise.
How could the group travel industry help communities struck by natural disaster?
A few best practices can help the group travel industry make the most out of their charitable donations given after a disaster strikes a community you care about.
It's important to diversify your disaster giving, even if just a few hundred dollars. Give to more than one organization, as opposed to just one; just like a diversified investment portfolio, you want to spread your funding around, for some groups will perform better than others.
Another important principle is to give some of your money to groups that will help with the area's long-term recovery, which is often underfunded—not just immediate relief.
What could the industry to do help relieve the damage caused by flooding in Louisiana, specifically?
It's important to give back together, united, so you can make more of an impact—check with competitors and partners working in Louisiana, too, and make a greater difference together.
Of course, as group travel, find organizations that address the long-term recovery and areas that are important to you. You can certainly consider a range of local nonprofits, such as those cited by CNN. But also get creative and get in touch with those that matter to you—check with the local visitors bureaus, as well as museums, arts and culture groups, and other community organizations. They're all going to have major issues, and you might consider focusing your limited resources on tourism's recovery itself.
You can learn how Tourism Cares applied these principles from our Nepal Fund.
What advice do you have for anyone involved in group travel who wants to help relieve damage from natural disasters?
Give now—but also save some of that giving for later.
Louisiana—and others—will need immediate help, but will still need help six months, a year or even many years from now! Consider also funding groups and projects that focus on post-relief efforts or renewal tourism, making investments that specifically help the destination's tourism economy and finding ways to highlight renewed places.
Written by Cassie Westrate, staff writer for Groups Today.