Cars full of families from the Lake Charles area lined up throughout the parking lot at the Shrine on Airline in Metairie on Sunday. 

Thousands of Lake Charles evacuees seek shelter in New Orleans hotels

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“The apartment is gone. The whole roof came off,” said Marcus Lands who lost his Lake Charles apartment and nearly everything in it. “Poles everywhere; trees everywhere; cars messed up, no power.”

Lands waited in line for several hours at the Shrine on Airline for help. It’s being used as an evacuation reception center where the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services is processing hotel vouchers for evacuees. 

“Trying to get as much help as we can,” Lands said. 

Gov. John Bel Edwards said there are 45 hotels in Louisiana being used as evacuation shelters; 29 of those are in New Orleans. The city is a key evacuation location for families made refugees by Hurricane Laura; around 6,000 evacuees are staying in the area.

President Trump approved a major disaster declaration in Louisiana, allowing FEMA to fund these evacuation hotel stays.

The center will be open 24/7 for at least several days.

“Just trying to make it,” Lands said. 

Because of physical distancing guidelines for COVID-19, large shelters could not be used to house all of these evacuees. The state is using hotels to keep families separate.

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