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Toyota Helps Non-Profit Rebuild in Areas Still Destroyed by Katrina

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author photo by J. Mark Sternberg September 2011

Toyota is lending its manufacturing expertise to help a non-profit organization rebuild communities that have been destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

It has been six years since the devastating storm landed in the South East. Almost 1,500 people lost their lives in the disaster and whole communities have been displaced as their homes were damaged from the storm.

The St. Bernard Project was founded in the wake of the disaster to help people in the area rebuild their communities. According to the organization, more than 10,000 people still have not been able to rebuild their homes that were destroyed in 2005.

"Despite steady progress in rebuilding, homes throughout our communities remain severely damaged and our waiting list of those needing help continues to grow," said SBP founder Zack Rosenburg.

The rebuilding process has been a slow one, SBP is only made up of 33 staff members and it takes them 12 to 18 weeks to rebuild a house - that's where Toyota comes in.

Toyota knows how to build things. The company's Kentucky plant can make around 2,000 vehicles every day, and the company sold nearly two million vehicles in the US in 2010 alone.

Toyota got together with the workers of SBP to apply the lessons it learned from building cars in an effort to help streamline the group's rebuilding process.

Toyota's team came up with a plan and SBP built two houses to test out the car company's strategy. The result was that SBP could build a house almost twice as fast as it could before and with half as many time consuming mistakes.

"For those recovering from disasters, time matters. There's a massive human impact from efficiency and the partnership with Toyota is going to make a significant difference in families' lives," Rosenburg said.

The effect of Toyota's expertise won't be limited to just Louisiana, SBP said it is looking to apply the lessons it learned and use them to help rebuild in the flood and tornado ravaged areas of Joplin, Mo., Tuscaloosa, Ala. and Minot, N.D..

"At Toyota, we judge our success not just on the cars we make, but also on the positive impact we are able to have in local communities nationwide," said Jamie Bonini, the manager of Toyota's production center. "With so many nonprofits being asked to do more with less, the need to operate with greater efficiency has become even more important."

Toyota said it will continue to work with SBP and it will expand to help other non-profits and hospitals soon.

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Toyota Helps Non-Profit Rebuild in Areas Still Destroyed by Katrina - Autotrader