St. Pete Beach business helping Louisiana flood victims

Restaurant employee has friends, family affected
Posted at 8:57 PM, Aug 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-22 01:17:00-04
The devastation in Louisiana following catastrophic flooding is hitting home with many in the Tampa Bay area. We've already seen volunteers and loads of donations heading to Baton Rouge, and now a local restaurant is jumping on board to help.
The images from Louisiana's historic flooding are heartbreaking.
"I cried today just thinking about it," said Bret Cochran.
Bret Cochran grew up just outside Baton Rouge.  His dad's home took on knee-deep water.  Thankfully, he had flood insurance.  But many other friends and relatives and people around the state aren't so lucky.  More than 100,000 people have asked for federal help since the historic flooding started.
"My brother called me the other day and was like, 'Bret, it's crazy...t's all gone,'" said Cochran.
So he asked his boss at the Salty Rim Grill in St. Pete Beach if they could take up some donations of basic items to help.  Everyone at the restaurant jumped on board right away.
"We're just trying to show some Tampa Bay love to the Louisiana people," said Amanda Nelson with the Salty Rim Grill.
In just a few days, they've been amazed by generous amount of donations of everything from clothing and shoes, to diapers and food.
"It touches my soul to see the community coming together," said Nelson.
Amanda nelson says she knows first hand the value of helping those in need because she used to be homeless.
"I understand the importance of a toothbrush, toothpaste, just clothes to wear, water to drink. So to me, it's really important.  I just want to be able to give to them because somebody gave to me," Nelson said.
The restaurant is taking donations all week and this Louisiana native will pack up a truck and personally deliver it all to friends in need next week.
"A little bit, it feels like being a superhero.  That's the best part.  I just want to put a smile on people's faces," said Cochran.
You can drop off donations at the Salty Rim Grill through the end of this week.  Cochran said he's even willing to pick up donations from anyone who wants to give on his way there August 29th.  
The Salty Rim Grill is located at 9524 Blind Pass Rd. in St. Pete Beach. There's also a Go Fund Me page where you can donate if you can't get to the restaurant: