NEW ORLEANS - A volunteer group from Washington state, 360NOLA, continues to give back to New Orleans. They’ve been visiting the city since forming in 2009 to help rebuild homes damaged from Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters.
360NOLA co-founder Tanner Johnson, says "360 is the area code that me and Mariah Kerrihard, the other co-founder are from. We tie that in with Nola. We want to come into a community and make a 360 effect.”
Johnson and Kerrihardmade this year's 360NOLA volunteer trip for the 13th anniversary of the storm their biggest yet.
"We started in High school with all of our best friends. It was a tradition and it's something we've done every year. Giving back to the community, there's nothing better than that," Johnson said.
"I fell in love with the city when I came here and I've come every year since," Kerrihard said. "Being here, I never felt that love. I never felt a feeling like that. I thought, I want to keep coming back here. This is what fulfills me, almost felt like another home."
Johnson says around 5,000 families are without homes that have evacuated and haven't been brought back, such as floodings and other natural disasters.
“It's still a problem and that's why we keep coming back because the need is still here," he said.
Over the course of five days, August 24-28, the group recruited nearly 40 local and national volunteers to help work on two damaged homes. Both homes were affected by Katrina and one was damaged from both Katrina and the February 2017 Tornado in New Orleans East.
A New Orleans resident and 360NOLA volunteer, Casmé Barnes, says, "It's devastating to watch my family go through all of that, so to be a part of watching someone's homecoming back together, it's a blessing."
360NOLA works directly with SBP, a national disaster resilience and recovery organization that rebuilds storm-damaged housing for families who own homes that they cannot afford to rebuild. In New Orleans alone, SBP has rebuilt homes for 715 families and over 1,500 across the country. They assign the homes to 360NOLA that need work.
A first time 360NOLA volunteer and Dallas resident, Yaaqob Davis, says, "It's crazy to see that all these years later there's still damage that hasn't been fixed."
The group plans to keep the tradition of returning to New Orleans until the work is done. They also plan to expand and create a 360 effect in other cities across the country that are affected by natural disasters.
If you’re interested in being part of 360NOLA, you can email them at email@example.com and follow them on social media, @360NOLA.