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High percentage of people leaving Lake Charles area, according to new report

Updated: Apr. 26, 2021 at 7:47 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Lake Charles had a higher percentage in 2020 of people who left the area than any other metro area in the country, according to an article in the New York Times.

That’s based on postal zip codes and the number of people who made change of address requests at the U.S. Postal Service.

Just about everybody knows someone who has left Lake Charles in the last year. The question is, ‘Will they be back?’

Some are displaced and plan to return after insurance issues are resolved and repairs are made. Others like Cathy Chapman and her husband Dave Brown do not plan to return.

“We are in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and we love it here. The main reason we’re here is because there are no hurricanes and virtually no humidity.”

Cathy says they still love Lake Charles but ultimately decided to leave.

“We just decided after the two storms back to back we didn’t want to spend our retirement years running from them six months out of every year.”

However, Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter expects most of the 3,000 people he considers displaced to return.

“When we say exodus, I believe most of those people are coming back, and I am firmly committed to make sure that we work to see those people come back to Lake Charles,” Mayor Hunter said.

A U.S. Postal spokesman says the article fails to distinguish between temporary and permanent address changes and speculates once homes are fixed, owners will return. Mayor Hunter agrees.

“When you talk about a number like six or seven percent, that number is very standard to happen after a natural disaster the likes of which we saw in 2020,” Hunter said.

The mayor believes the area is proving its resiliency and building back better and stronger. He thinks the city has a bright future.

Another indicator of people who have left is that Calcasieu Parish schools are down 3,000 to 4,000 students compared to usual, but the dust is still settling.

To read the New York Times article click here.

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