• Thu. Dec 3rd, 2020

Southwest Louisiana still picking up the pieces after back-to-back hurricanes

Butter said the family has a contractor lined up to start repairs but  is waiting for insurance companies to release payments, a frustrating and slow process. Even in late October, there was a large pile outside the home of Sheetrock, insulation, couches and other furniture they lost in the gutting. 

“We have prepared ourselves to possibly be out of the house for a whole year,” she said.

Butter said knowing there are many families in situations much worse than her own motivates her to keep coming and helping at the relief center every day.

Back-to-back hurricanes only worsened Covid-19 crisis

John Cardone, the city administrator for Lake Charles, previously told NBC News that some 95 percent of the buildings in the city sustained some type of damage, ranging from being completely demolished to leaking roofs.

Between the two storms, nearly 2,800 residential structures (which includes single-family dwellings, mobile homes and apartments) were destroyed, more than 7,120 sustained major damage, more than 17,300 received minor damage, and another 13,552 were affected in all of Calcasieu Parish, according to officials. 

“There’s just so much of need in this area we don’t want people to forget that,” Butter said. “A lot of families don’t have insurance and need help rebuilding and getting their homes. We just want people to know it’s a lot worse than what they realize. It’s the whole area that’s still trying to recover.”

Durel said prior to the economic devastation the coronavirus pandemic and the hurricanes brought to the area, “we actually had 46 percent of the people here in southwest Louisiana who were struggling to make ends meet.”

“Then we went into Covid and now we’ve had the double whammy of the hurricanes, so the people who were struggling here, it’s even that much more massive and greater for them,” she said. “It’s just so much worse because they were already starting off the hurricane season in a bad place.”

Denise Durel talks to a resident in line at the hurricane relief center. (Bryan Tarnowski for NBC News)

Denise Durel talks to a resident in line at the hurricane relief center. (Bryan Tarnowski for NBC News)