TSR Prayers Up: It’s been nearly a week since Hurricane Laura ravaged the city of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and residents are still without power and water.
Residents tell us they’re hearing it could take up to 4-6 weeks for power to be restored while the city is currently under a “dusk til’ dawn” curfew. On the path to rebuilding the city, the population of which is majority Black, residents are facing a series of issues in getting assistance and they need the country to know what’s going on.
“We’re just not getting the coverage we need right now,” said 18-year-old college student Ariel Neal who traveled back to her hometown to help her family. “I feel we have to start all over. Everyone’s been affected in some form.”
Debris and trees are still blocking roadways, evacuees are reportedly being turned away or kicked out of hotels that are overbooked, and with everything else that’s going on in the country right now, residents like Ariel’s family fear their city will be forgotten or looked over.
Ariel tells us her aunt’s house is inhabitable and a tree fell on her aunt’s car. While responders are working fast to restore power to commercial areas, residential neighborhoods such as Oak Park where her grandmother lives, are seeing little to no progress.
“We have a lot of older people in our city,” Ariel said. “I feel we have to start all over. Everyone’s been affected in some form.”
Majority of buildings are operating off generators in the blazing summer heat. Ariel says essential workers are putting in 18 hour days and washing clothes in coolers.
She feels Trump’s visit to the city didn’t provide the real help that is needed.
“He made a joke of everything, the way he started signing autographs,” she said. “Everyone just wants to be taken seriously. We want them to hear what we’re saying.”
Ariel’s mother Quinn Pitre, a facility manager, said residents are having issues with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and getting funding to start repairing their homes.
Quinn has been helping her mother (Ariel’s grandmother) sort through the process but both FEMA and insurance companies have been giving people the runaround.
“You’re in the middle and you’re left with no options,” Petri said. “FEMA is telling people to go through homeowner’s insurance and homeowner’s insurance says talk to FEMA. There are no real answers for help.”
She especially feels that FEMA and the insurance companies are taking advantage of the underserved communities in Lake Charles.
“It took three days for FEMA to even open,” she said.
She adds that relief and resources have not been evenly distributed throughout the town as predominantly Black neighborhoods aren’t seeing as many donations as other parts of town.
Anyone who wants to help is encouraged to donate resources such as tarps, bottled water, flashlights or money/hotel vouchers for evacuees.
Find out how you can donate to hurricane relief for Lake Charles and southwest Louisiana here.
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