LAKE CHARLES, LA, — Lake Charles, La., is almost completely destroyed after Hurricane, Laura swept from the Atlantic Ocean to the southwest coast of Louisiana last week. Families are still displaced and unable to return to their homes or what’s left of them.
Many Lake Charles natives are still in surrounding cities near Lake Charles (New Orleans and Baton Rouge) and the nearby neighboring state, Texas. Living conditions in the city remain uninhabitable. With no power, water or minimal options for food, staying in the city would be a considerable challenge.
“With no air and no water we are fighting it out,” said Tony Guillory, one of Calcasieu Parish’s police officers. “We are asking everyone that if they come in to do whatever they have to do and leave by the end of the day —unless they can go without bare essentials. We ask that they assess their property and leave,” he said.
Some Lake Charles residents are staying in hotels in nearby cities and towns.
“Right now we are in Zachary (La.). This is our third hotel. My dad’s job and insurance is covering our hotels. That has been benefiting us, but all of the vouchers haven’t really been coming through. I’m not really sure what the problem is, but a lot of people have been having problems with obtaining vouchers,” said Amberly Thompson, a senior at McNeese State University in Lake Charles.
Thompson said that her home received very little damage from the hurricane, but without the bare necessities she and her family cannot stay there.
The National Guard remains throughout the city. As of Tuesday, more than 1400 miles of roads have been cleared across the state due to the soldiers’ diligence, according to the Louisiana National Guard’s Twitter account. Along with other tasks such as handing out water to civilians, generators to key workplaces and setting up mobile COVID-19 testing sites, the National Guard continues to be a major help to the communities in the state.
In addition to the Category 4 Hurricane and damage, residents and officials have not yet forgotten about the COVID-19 pandemic. Monday, Guillory did not know of any testing sites for the virus. However, as of Tuesday, with the help of the Louisiana Department of Health, the Louisiana National Guard set up mobile testing sites across the state, according to their Twitter account.
Due to the nearly 140 mph winds, many establishments and businesses were completely destroyed. Upcoming and newly established business owners feel they hit another roadblock too soon after the coronavirus.
“I have been working on my studio for almost a year now. I had not officially opened yet. This was really devastating for me because the coronavirus hit first, and I had to put a pause on things. Right when I felt like my head was coming up above water, this happened,” said Aliesha Bree, owner of the Glam Room in Lake Charles. “I don’t know how, or if, I’ll be able to recover from this,” she said.
Bree also said that the entire glass storefront of her studio is completely demolished. The business owner and a few of her other colleagues are trying to raise awareness with the platforms they have. Using hashtags like #HelpLakeCharles and #comebackstrongSWLA, local influencers are trying to raise money for displaced residents through GoFundMe accounts.
“We have the United Way, Red Cross and several parishes that have come to Lake Charles to cook things for people. Everyday more and more phone calls from people to help cook and do things in the community. One organization that is setting up now will serve approximately 1000 meals a day. Any help is always good. We are not going to turn anybody down,” Guillory said.
Across social media, users from southwest Louisiana are asking for help from cities. Many ask for help in any way possible whether it’s food or water.