Lake Charles Evacuees Evicted and Forced Back to Lake Charles 

Lake Charles evacuees in New Orleans hotels are being sent text messages that they have to leave their hotels in the next few days. Those with transportation are being told that they have to drive to Lake Charles to verify whether or not their residences are habitable, call 911 if they aren’t habitable, then wait to have local authorities verify whether the residences are habitable. Then they are to make their way to Alexandria to stay there in shelters. Those evacuees without transportation are being bused to Lake Charles, apparently to be dropped off at their residences, verify whether the structures are habitable, call 911 if they aren’t, then contact the National Guard for transport to Alexandria shelters.

There are rumors that Covid is spreading in the shelters, and this is adding to the extreme anxiety of evacuees as they are being forced to evict.

We learned that the Red Cross is sending out the orders to evict by text messages, apparently at the behest of the State of Louisiana. This is apparently a policy that Homeland Security, FEMA, the State of Louisiana, and Calcasieu and Orleans Parish officials are very much aware of. It is unclear who exactly crafted the policy.

This policy raises several issues and concerns:

1. The physical safety of evacuees forced back to Lake Charles is a concern. It is unclear how or when their evacuation, again, from Lake Charles will take place. Will it be conducted in a timely manner so that they don’t have to spend the night in a dangerous situation? Many are stressing out in this situation and it is affecting their physical health and mental well being.

2. Governor Edwards has spoken about the plan to move evacuees to non-congregate shelters to avoid the spread of Covid. Why are they being taken at this time from congregate shelters to non-congregate shelters? What is the long term plan for permanent housing if their residences aren’t rebuilt?

3. Who crafted this policy? Why are evacuees being forced back to verify whether their apartments or homes are habitable? Couldn’t this have been facilitated by the National Guard or state/parish officials?

4. Most of the evacuees are low income and Black. This points to the issue of class and race. Why are low income, mostly Black evacuees from Lake Charles being treated in this manner?

For more information, contact Elizabeth Cook, General Assembly of New Orleans, 504-503-9624,

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