Iowa Woman Takes it Upon Herself to Help Friend’s Family in Baton Rouge

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Carla Pope is a one-woman relief effort who is about to embark on a mission to help a friend's family in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The city is a disaster zone, dealing with the worst flooding the country has seen since Superstorm Sandy.

“I expect a disaster. Every aunt, uncle, cousin, friend of the family has been flooded,” said Pope.

Carla met her friend Ashley Bernstein in Des Moines years ago. Ashley has since moved to New York City, but Carla, after visiting Ashley’s extended family in Baton Rouge for Mardi Gras, feels connected.

“They mean an awful lot to me; they feel like my own family. You know I’d want the same thing for my family and I just want to be there for them,” said Carla.

Kitchens have been destroyed, bedrooms dismantled, caskets raised from the ground by the water and dumped on one aunt’s back porch.  Carla knows recovery isn’t going to be easy.

“A lot of hard work, but I`ve got a strong back so I can use that,” said Carla, “I just felt like after seeing what happened in Des Moines and in Cedar Rapids in the flood I needed to try and do whatever I could to help out."

Iowa's chapter of the American Red Cross is also helping the relief effort, sending 12 Iowans to Baton Rouge; and while the standards of food and water are critical, two of these 12 will be providing something almost as important.

“One of the things the red cross does is we actually provide mental health support, and two of the folks that are going down from central Iowa, they’re both licensed mental healthcare workers and that’s a big part of what we do; letting them talk, share their story, talk about what’s going on, because there’s a lot of unknowns when it comes to flooding and that’s really hard,” said Kara Kelly of the American Red Cross.

Kelly says those who make the trip are in for a tough time.

“Sometimes we’re sleeping in shelters ourselves and you’re working 16, 17 hour days; but you wouldn’t trade it for a second because you just want to be there to help,” she said.

A spirit Carla Pope embodies.

“I’m a farm girl, I know I can do hard work and I just want to go down there and do as much as I can,” said Pope.

If you want to help Carla’s efforts she says she needs bleach, mold spore masks and contractor grade trash bags among other things.

You can get in touch with her at

If you'd like to help the American Red Cross you can donate at or text “LAFLOODS” to 90999 to donate $10.