‘It is a horrible feeling,’ Lake Charles evacuees describe anxiety returning to devastation

Hurricane Laura Lake Charles
Hurricane Laura Lake Charles(WVUE)
Updated: Aug. 27, 2020 at 8:31 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Hundreds maybe even thousands of people evacuated to New Orleans, and while they say they’re grateful for the shelter and hospitality many are anxious to get back to see what happened with their homes.

After a night of 150 miles per hour winds, rain, and storm surge, Southwest Louisiana bore the brunt of Laura’s devastation.

Aerials over a still-flooded Holly Beach showed some properties taken down to the foundation, debris scattered for miles, and roofs battered from the wind and rain.

In Cameron Parish, the water tower is still standing, but homes and trailers are floating in floodwaters for miles. The storm also pushed a train off the rails in Grand Lake, the cars stretching for miles, all resting off the tracks.

But in Lake Charles, what was forecasted to be the bullseye of the storm, some buildings were reduced to scraps of wood, sheet metal, and insulation flung about. Much of the floodwaters have yet to recede. Huge downed trees toppled over powerlines, the winds snapped branches and utility poles for miles.

Sisters, Latoyia and Jerelynn Jackson say the only reason they evacuated from Lake Charles is because their families encouraged them to.

“We wasn’t gonna leave we didn’t feared nothing it got us a goddess there’s no point in leaving and running,” Jerelynn said.

Now looking at those terrifying images, the pair say they’re thankful their exhausting trip to New Orleans kept their family safe and together.

“It was scary and we have kids in the background, ‘mom we’re hungry, we want to get home’ we’re not going home we’re leaving away from home,” Jerelynn said.

“They have been awesome about taking care of us and our families,” Latoyia said.

Latoyia says she’s the only one in the family to know a little about what they may return to. A friend sent her a picture of her home with a tree on top of it. The thought of what the rest of her house may look like brings her to tears.

“Everything I do in life is for my children, it’s never been for myself and to know that I worked so hard to keep it, even all the things I had to go through and people that tried to hurt me to even think that I might’ve lost it is a horrible feeling,” Latoyia said.

The sisters say they’ll only return home when they know it’s safe to do so, but know they’ll be returning to a home that is now forever changed.

“I’m not trying to think for the worst I’m trying to think for the positive the best,” Jerelynn said.

“If I go back and everything is gone then what,” Latoyia said.

It’s recommended for others who want to help to first contact those hotels like the Sheraton on Canal to see what supplies are needed most.

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