Every Shelter and Houston Responds Use Billboards to Tarp Damaged Roofs after Hurricane Laura


After Level 4 Hurricane Laura made its way through Lake Charles, Louisiana, Houston Responds has been working alongside organizations, including Every Shelter and Habitat for Humanity Houston, to provide solutions to damaged roofs. Three weeks after the storm, over 3,200 billboard vinyls have been repurposed to protect roofs and homes. Using old billboard vinyl is a creative alternative that will provide lasting aid until the damage is able to be fully repaired.


Transcript:

Sally:

It's been exactly three weeks since Hurricane Laura made landfall as a category 4 storm, one of the strongest on record. Now if you visit Lake Charles, you may see billboards on roofs of damaged homes instead of alongside highways. That’s because a Houston non-profit has found an interesting way to repurpose the vinyl that would have ended up in landfills. The President of Every Shelter, the Founder, Scott Key, joins me. How many of the billboard vinyls do you now have over in Lake Charles?

Scott Key:

We’ve deployed about 3,200 so far.

Sally:

Wow, what a great effort. Do you expect to respond to damage in Alabama and Florida from the latest hurricane?

Scott Key:

Yeah. We're a little new to this space. We work overseas with refugees. We're getting plugged into the system. It's a pretty organized effort. Looks like there is going to be a need in Florida and potentially with the wildfires on the West coast. We're really happy to be able to help in this way.

Sally:

That’s interesting, because your mission didn't start as responding to weather events like you mentioned. You're actually standing in front of a prototype refugee shelter. Tell me about that.

Scott Key:

That's right. Typically, we work with refugees. There's about 80 million in the world right now. About 30 million refugees live in camp settings, what you might have as a refugee camp. On average they will spend 12 to 17 years living in a camp. So, what my non-profit does is try to create products that are durable, that really target important aspects of their life that causes a lot of suffering. And one of the things is a tarp. Most refugee shelters are made out of some form of structure and a tarp. The need is for a tarp that lasts multiple years unlike what's common now is a tarp that only lasts a few months. We've been working with the billboard industry for a while to create a product that actually serves the needs of refugees and creates a multiyear tarp by taking the billboard vinyl, which has printing on one side and sewing it into a tarp that's multilayered. We hope and believe this will be a multiyear solution for the families we serve.

Sally:

What was the process like getting all of these hundreds of tarps over to Lake Charles and finding the homes that really needed them the most?

Scott Key:

Fortunately, even though we are new to this, a lot of organizations we work with are not. We've been working with Houston Responds and Habitat for Humanity Houston. We've been able to plug into an ecosystem that already exists, identifying homeowner needs and distribution. We were able to secure a partnership with Uber Freight. Uber, the car company, also has a freight company. They provided most of the shipping for us. So, it was really activating this network of billboard operators we'd been cultivating and working with for a while now and asking if they were willing to step up in this way, and fortunately, they are. My organization has facilitated this, but there's a lot of organizations surrounding us that's made this a possibility for the families of Lake Charles.

Sally:

Keep up the great work. we're out of time. I want to let our viewers know it's a donation of $30 that can send one of those billboard vinyls to a family impacted by a hurricane. Scott, thanks so much for joining us and hopefully we can check back with you again soon.

Scott Key:

Thank you for your time today.


Learn more about our Hurricane Laura recovery efforts by visiting www.houstonresponds.org/disaster.

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