Dentist Taps Professional Network to Aid Flood Victims



With rainfall exceeding 20 inches, the flooding that devastated Louisiana in August left thousands of homes and businesses underwater. People not only were left without shelter, but in many cases, they didn’t even have dry clothes to wear. Tony Soileau, DDS, owner of Smiles by Soileau in Lafayette, asked his colleagues in an online forum for help.

“What we need most of all is scrubs. The families have no dry clothes. Any scrubs you have, even if they are XXXL or XS, it’s okay,” Soileau posted on the forum, which serves practitioners in the Smile Source network of independent dentists. “Holes or names on the scrubs do not matter. They just need something dry.”

The members of the forum responded by overnighting scrubs, flip-flops, children’s clothing, and personal hygiene items directly to Soileau. They also shared his request on other forums and emailed their respective community leaders and patients asking for further help. Soon, Soileau began receiving between 40 and 80 boxes a day.

In addition to clothing, donors also sent gloves, masks, bleach, and trash bags that Soileau and his team distributed to homeowners so they could begin the work of cleaning out their homes once the flood receded. Also, donors sent blankets and pillows, stuffed animals, and coloring books to help children affected by the flood.

Soileau and his team would inventory each box of supplies that came in. Then, the donations would be loaded onto a pickup truck and distributed within a day to more than a dozen makeshift shelters and churches that had not been receiving help yet from the Red Cross or the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“As a community, our Smile Source is all about helping our independent doctors professionally and personally,” said Todd Nickerson, vice president of business development at Smile Source. “It can be hard to ask for help, and we were glad we were able to do this.”

The people of Louisiana still need help, however, especially with the holiday season rapidly approaching. Soileau and his team are now collecting presents and gift cards that will be distributed to children in the Lafayette area.

“Everything is gone. It’s not like the flood came in, the flood left, and back to work. No, all of south Louisiana is messed up,” said Soileau. “The families lost everything, and the parents don’t have any money left. So Christmas is going to be awfully tough this year. Anything we can do to provide a little bit of relief, we’re going to do.”

Donations can be sent to Smiles by Soileau, 420 Settlers Trace Blvd, Lafayette, La 70508.

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