Following a weekend of historic flooding in Lousiana the soundstage and production facility, the Celtic Media Centre, has been converted into a shelter for residents forced out of their homes.
Celtic Studios is the largest film and television production studio in the state of Louisiana and has housed productions such as the “Twilight” movies, “Battleship,” and “The Fantastic Four” but now the massive facility is home to those evicted from their home by this natural disaster. It has become an epicenter for reuniting family members and getting help to flood victims.
The Celtic Media Centre has been transformed into a shelterand according to the Director of Studio Operations, Patrick Mulhearn, who gave an interview to Deadline “This is Baton Rouge’s Katrina moment."
“We’ve actually have done this before when Hurricane Isaac hit in 2012, and it worked out really well. This was before Beasts of the Southern Wild was released, and Fox Searchlight actually screened it for volunteers here, which was a real morale booster.”
He added “We need an industry response to this.
“We need to think about what assets do we have to help people recover not only in Baton Rouge but wherever disaster happens.”
Mulhearn said that due to lack of preparation they were in need of a lot of help. However, the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services stepped up on Sunday, seeing the number of people being evacuated there.
Mulhearn told the Advocate "It looks like Louisiana…It is a mix of every race, color, creed, you name it...What breaks your heart are the elderly and the infirm and the people doing simple things like looking for insulin."
He also said “Celtic is a small town right now and we are experiencing small town problems.
“All kinds of things, like traffic, animal control, feeding the homeless, you name it."
Some 3,500 people from the surrounding parishes have experienced an outpouring of generosity from the community though medical volunteers are still needed.
The National Weather Service has called the flooding a “1,000-year” disaster. The enormous, slow-moving rainstorm laid waste to much of southern Louisiana. By Monday more than 20,000 residents in total had been rescued, close to 12,000 are residing in shelters, and as many as seven have been killed.
Governor John Bel Edwards' office confirmed on Tuesday that eight parishes have been added to Louisiana's federal disaster declaration including Acadia, Ascension, East Feliciana, Iberia, Lafayette, Pointe Coupee, St. Landry and Vermilion along with East Baton Rouge, Livingston, St. Helena and Tangipahoa.
Baton Rouge rescuer thanks New Orleans volunteers after deadly floods https://t.co/HqrTGtF7N4 by @wordsofwalsh pic.twitter.com/H4ENyY8VxX— Yahoo News (@YahooNews) August 16, 2016
Aerial photos show Massive flooding in Denham Springs & Baton Rouge areas -- https://t.co/7i4QfusFi2 pic.twitter.com/ScWfgjnWGS— The Advocate (@theadvocatebr) August 13, 2016
He explained that currently the sound stages on Baton Rouge’s largest production center, which are large and well air conditioned, is being used as accommodation. However, the Center need more restrooms and showers. Mulhearn is also concerned about their ability to continuing to provide home-cooked meals for those staying there.
He told the Advocate he has been impressed with the number of people dropping off water, blankets and other necessities but he also said he does not know how long people will need to stay here.
Elizabeth Bollinger, a physician at St. Elizabeth Hospital, in Gonzales, has been volunteering at the shelter. She told the Advocate the medical volunteers have set up a triage station but they are in need of insulin, oxygen, inhalers, EpiPens, beta blockers, seizure medications, anxiety medications and SSRI medications.
Luckily for those in need the Celtic Media Center has been lying idle for “quite some time,” according to Mulhearn. This is due to changes in Louisiana’s tax incentive program which meant the production studios started scaling back two years ago, including the loss of 75 percent of jobs for the union crews. According to Deadline, due to “redemption caps, buybacks and budget cuts” the facility has remained largely vacant, thankfully.
If you have medical training or not and would like to volunteer at the Celtic Media Center you can come down and sign up for a shift. Donations of medical supplies, food, pillows, blankets, leashes, chairs, batteries, tape are all welcome to Building 7 at the center.
Evacuees are encouraged to mark themselves "safe and well" at www.redcross.org/safeandwell to reconnect with their families. Facebook also allows users to mark themselves SAFE.