Evacuees arrive in Northeast Louisiana ahead of Hurricane Laura

Hotels are filling up around the twin cities as Hurricane Laura makes landfall
Published: Aug. 26, 2020 at 12:07 AM CDT
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Leaders in Monroe, West Monroe and Ouachita Parish are not waiting until Hurricane Laura makes landfall to make preparations.

“If the word is given, we’ll be ready,” said Friday Ellis.

In a press conference Tuesday, Monroe Mayor Friday Ellis, West Monroe Mayor Staci Mitchell, Ouachita Parish Police Jury President Shane Smiley and United Way of Northeast Louisiana President Janet Durden addressed their plans for the incoming storms.

Officials will not open any local shelters due to COVID-19 concerns, and don’t expect residents to require any disaster needs.

Since going to a shelter isn’t an option, hotels are quickly filling up.

One South Louisiana family we spoke with say their fear of a possible repeat of past disasters led them to pack up their things and leave town.

“Evacuating is nothing unusual for us. We’ve been doing this my entire life,” said Brandi Bell.

Bell, her mom and two kids took the trip to West Monroe from Bell City in Calcasieu Parish and Lacassine in Jefferson Davis Parish to avoid the storm.

She says her experience with losing everything to Hurricane Rita in 2005 and again to Hurricane Ike in 2008 made her decision to evacuate an easy one.

“We went through it with Ike. Out of our family we lost about 13 homes,” said Bell. “When you lose things twice, you have a whole different perspective. When they say voluntary evacuation you think oh OK, but when they say mandatory evacuation, you go.”

For now, they’ll call the Hampton Inn home for the next few days as they wait to see the possible destruction Laura will bring as it makes landfall.

“You have to make those types of hard decisions and do what’s best for your family. Everybody has their own way of thinking but pretty much when you live through what we’ve lived through with Rita and Ike you kind of make an executive decision early and get out while you can,” said Bell.

If you know someone that needs storm assistance, they can call 211 for more information.

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