HOUSTON – The process of rebuilding and cleaning up from Hurricane Laura is something that will take a lot more time. Many people are waiting and left without a home, some of them still in the Houston area.
Lake Charles resident Marsha Duhon just wants to go home.
“You can’t go back to Lake Charles. Everybody talks about it. You got to see it. It’s all tore up. You should see it,” Duhon said.
Laura’s 150 mph winds raked southwest Louisiana and parts of Texas. Neighborhoods became a jumble of downed trees, power lines, and shattered homes.
Hurricane Laura damage
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said more than 160,000 households have registered for help and industry estimates put total damage between $8 and $12 billion.
- $131 million to survivors for assistance ($89 million for housing, $41 million for other needs)
- 162,741 households have registered for FEMA assistance
Denise Watson has been in the Houston area since the storm hit her hometown in Louisiana.
“I have eight children, that’s very, very hard,” explains Watson. “We are in Shenandoah, Texas at a hotel. Living in one room with eight kids.”
Cramped conditions are amplified by the uncertainty of when she and her children can go home.
“It’s not home no more. It’s not your comfort zone, it’s a not a happy place,” said Watson. “All the stuff you worked hard for, your kids' play places, it’s not the same.”
Watson says her father is helping with some expenses but knows that can’t last.
“I’m going crazy and I feel bad at the same time because their life has changed,” explains Watson.
Displaced by storm
A month out of Hurricane Laura’s landfall and more than 11,000 people from Cameron and Calcasieu parishes in Louisiana are still displaced from their homes. More than 4,800 of those people are here in Texas, spread across the state in 1,800 hotel rooms.
“It’s been horrible, stressful,” Duhon said. “You have to worry about going back and forth to Lake Charles to meet with insurance adjusters; it’s frustrating.”
Power has been restored to much of the area and just this week FEMA announced the broad strokes of a plan to provide housing for those whose homes were destroyed. Options include rental assistance or a temporary RV or manufactured home. The government is also continuing to provide shelter in Texas for those living in 48 of the hardest hit Louisiana zip codes. And while Duhon is determined to rebuild, she has friends considering starting over elsewhere.
“They got some that are not even going to go back to Lake Charles because they got nothing to go back to,” Duhon said.
If you are a Louisiana evacuee in Texas and need help, you can check the Department of Children and Family Services in Louisiana for help.
Helping Hurricane Laura Victims
From cleanup to rebuilding and serving food, there are several organizations on the ground working daily in Louisiana to help hurricane victims rebuild. Some of these groups could use volunteers - but the biggest need right now is monetary donations to help pay for relief efforts. Here is more on how you can help.
The Red Cross is working closely with partners to provide emergency lodgings, food, water, relief supplies, and other support for people whose lives have been turned upside down during this challenging time. More than 1,200 trained Red Cross disaster workers are supporting relief efforts on the ground or virtually. Dozens of service sites set up by the Red Cross and our partners are available across the hardest-hit areas.
Thousands of people are visiting daily to get water, food and emergency relief supplies. You can volunteer to help on the ground, or you can donate money to help fund relief efforts.
The Salvation Army is supplying food and other disaster services to people in Louisiana as they continue relief efforts. You can donate to the cause.
The United Way is working in the neighborhoods to help families with any basic needs they may have. You can donate here.
This organization is an emergency response organization that deploys volunteers to disaster sites to help with cleaning, rebuilding homes, and creating a long-term recovery plan. You can volunteer to help or send a donation to help with materials and other needed items.
The Houston Food Bank is part of a larger network of food banks with several close to the disaster zone in Louisiana. The best way to help the organization meet that demand is to donate money. Every $1 you donate provides three meals.
Mercy Chefs was founded after Hurricane Katrina to provide meals to those affected by the storm. They set up and serve food to both relief workers and any families who may be in need.
This organization helps families find shelter while their homes are being rebuilt. You can help provide someone with a night stay by donating online.