One month after Hurricane Laura, many SWLA residents await help while living in tents

Updated: Sep. 24, 2020 at 9:04 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - While the storm is long over, the struggles for many in Southwest Louisiana are not.

It’s a reality that many in Southwest Louisiana are facing right now, spending their days and nights in tents until temporary or permanent housing is made available.

“I took the very last of my money I had, and that cost 160 bucks at Dick’s Sporting Goods when they first opened up.”

It’s a sight that’s becoming the norm since Hurricane Laura devastated the region, leaving many families with nothing but clothes and bare essentials.

“I was in tears when I seen what was left of our trailer, but everything I own is in the tent.”

For Sherry Bourque and her father James Baker, this is what life looks like nearly one month after Hurricane Laura.

“With this (storm) it’s like a total loss of everything, and you’re reduced to living in a tent. Waiting on FEMA help, because we didn’t have house insurance. So, it’s just a hurry up and wait.”

Having rode out Hurricane Audrey, Rita, and now Laura, James says, chances are, he won’t be doing it again.

“This is the worst storm ever come through this place. This storm was very different; I’ll never do it again.”

Now, the family spends their days and nights in tents they have in their backyard. Which is the case for so many across the area, waiting for help.

“So many people that are homeless right now - waiting on homes to come in - because I know I-10 beach had a bunch of tents on it, FEMA saying they’ll send you to another place, to stay at a motel. The closest I’ve been offered is Alexandria. He was offered Houston or New Orleans, but you have to be here to deal with the contractors or FEMA and everything else, you have to be here. So, you really can’t go far.”

Right now, most of the help comes from their neighbors who are dropping off hot meals or clothes to help make a means to an end.

Both Baker and Bourque say they’re prepared to live in the tents for the long haul. However, in the meantime, they have applied for housing assistance from FEMA and are awaiting approval.

After a recent post on Facebook, there is an effort underway between a few locals and some downtown businesses to start “adopting” some of these families who have had to resort to living in tents in the wake of Hurricane Laura.

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