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Dental Flood Relief
In August 2005 when the LSU Health New Orleans School of Dentistry was stewing in the floodwaters resulting from the failure of the federal floodwalls after Katrina, the people of the Baton Rouge metropolitan area rolled out the welcome mat. Because of the extensive damage to its campus near City Park, the school spent two years in borrowed space in Baton Rouge, continuing to educate Louisiana’s dentists, dental hygienists and dental laboratory technologists while still treating patients.

In August 2016 when a no-name system of severe thunderstorms dumped feet of rainwater on the metropolitan Baton Rouge area flooding tens of thousands of homes, the LSU Health New Orleans School of Dentistry family wanted to repay in some way the many kindnesses extended to them.

“With the support the dental school and New Orleans received from Baton Rouge and the entire state, it was only natural to want to help out,” notes Trace Favre, LSU Health New Orleans School of Dentistry DDS student. “The student leaders of the dental school (Student Government Association officers, class presidents and American Student Dental Association leaders) met Tuesday, August 16 to discuss what the dental school could do to help with the flooding in the Baton Rouge area. We decided our approach would be twofold -- a donation drive at the school and a trip to Baton Rouge to help flood victims face to face.”
Dental Flood Relief Denham Springs
Joanne Courville, Director of Alumni Relations, Advancement, and Publications, connected the students with Operation Blessing, a nonprofit humanitarian and disaster relief organization. On Saturday, August 27, nearly a hundred LSU Health New Orleans School of Dentistry students, residents, faculty and staff headed to Denham Springs to help homeowners in one of the hardest hit areas.
flooded memories
“To see the streets lined with mementos, family pictures, really, people’s lives, you realize their lives have been forever changed,” said Dr. Henry Gremillion, Dean of LSU Health New Orleans’ School of Dentistry. “The mental and physical anguish these people have had to endure is tragic, and I can’t imagine people having to do this work on their own.”

The dental school volunteers were divided into teams, which were assigned to work with the homeowners.

“We helped to sort through and salvage belongings, remove flood debris, furniture and appliances, gut homes by taking down soggy insulation and drywall, said Favre.

Courville adds, “And most importantly, we were there to love and listen to those residents who have lost so much.”

Some teams stayed at one house all day; others worked at up to five homes. They worked at 15-20 homes in all.

gutting a house
“With great sadness came great reward,” reflected Gremillion. “The homeowners’ smiles, hugs and appreciation were heartwarming.”
Dental School Operation Blessing
Recounts Favre, “The homeowners were so appreciative and relieved that there were people to help. It was great to be able to help out these people who were in a tough spot and did not have flood insurance. It was amazing to see the response from the dental school and to have so many people all uniting behind a common cause. To be able to help people in times of great need is really what it’s all about.”