Power restoration in Lake Charles relieves residents without electricity since Hurricane Laura
LAKE CHARLES - It’s been just over three weeks since Hurricane Laura ripped through southwest Louisiana causing widespread destruction, especially in Calcasieu Parish.
As of Friday, there were still around 22,000 residents in the parish without power. But some progress is being made restoring electricity in Lake Charles.
Officials say there has been a lot of progress in the past 21 days, but there is still so much work to be done.
Most neighborhood streets surrounding Lake Charles are lined with tree limbs and other debris tossed around by Laura’s 100 plus mph wind gusts. In those neighborhoods, most homes have blue tarps covering the rooftops.
Power crews could be seen on almost every other street, including 18th Street where generators buzzed through the afternoon. It’s the street where 64-year-old James Durousseau has lived for the past 20 years.
But for the past three weeks, Durousseau has had to call a tent his home. With no water or power since the storm came through the city, he says this was his best option.
“It’s been tough, staying in that tent. No air,” Durousseau said.
Just down the street, it’s the same story for Kersey Newlin and his electrical businesses.
“I still don’t have power at the office. Most probably burned 700, 800 gallons of diesel fuel. But you know what, that’s alright. It’s about helping people,” Newlin said.
That help can also come in the form of inspiration, according to Newlin. He spraypainted a message on the side of his business the morning after Laura passed that reads, "Louisiana Strong!! Laura Can’t Break Our Cajun Spirit, Amen!!"
“Yeah, you’re just not going to break our spirit. That Cajun spirit baby, it’s there,” Newlin said.
Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter says they’re in the thick of recovery mode, but he does see a small amount of progress being made.
“If you would have told me, however, that we would be where we are today, a couple of days after the storm, if you would have told me we’d have electricity anywhere in the city of Lake Charles or even running water in certain locations, I would have called you a liar,” Hunter said.
Back over on 18th street, it was the moment of truth for Durousseau as he unlocked his door and flicked on his light switch to see if the power was back on.
“Oh yes, yes sir! Come on! Light!” Durousseau said with a smile on his face as the light turned out.
Mayor Hunter says besides power and water, the next biggest challenge will be working with FEMA to come up with a housing plan for those who are not as fortunate and have no place to call home at the moment.
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