ALEXANDRIA, La. (KLFY) – A 70-minute drive north of Lafayette hundreds of people are spending their Labor Day in the Alexandria mega-shelter. Many individuals and families have now been there for a full week.
People have what they need, but it’s far from a holiday, even on Labor Day.
“Most people are barbecuing, having a good time today. Well as you can see if you look around, that’s not the case here. These folks, there’s no barbecue here. No fun really. Everybody is just really frustrated. Everybody just wants to go home, but nobody can,” said John Cossich.
He weathered out the Hurricane Ida in Belle Chase. After the storm, his local shelter quickly didn’t have the resources, so he was bussed to Alexandria. It’s the same for hundreds of his new neighbors.
“It’s been a struggle,” admitted Nadine Washington. She lost her St. Charles Parish home and everything inside. She doesn’t have anything to go back to. Unlike some people who came with family or their pets, she came alone.
“The family I have is the ones we’ve been sheltering with,” stated Washington. “And without us helping each other and doing whatever we’ve got to do, it would be hard. It would be hard as hell.”
Thankfully, those staying in the Alexandria mega-shelter have electricity, air conditioning, a cot, and three meals a day. Phones and computers are available to apply for FEMA help, but the nearest convenience store is a half-hour walk many have taken. Those with little money said a rideshare to the nearest Walmart 20 minutes away costs at least $50 round trip.
“You got to take the bitter with the sweet,” Washington lamented. “I can’t complain like I would want because they are helping me in a way, but in a way, it’s hurting me.”
After what Marcie Rushing lived through in Hurricane Ida, she doesn’t want to do it again.
“Oh no. No. I don’t want to go through this again,” she answered as tears began to roll down her face. “Just being misplaced, not knowing where we’re going, not knowing if we’re going to get home. It’s just sad.”
One Department of Agriculture and Forestry official taking care of animals said the mega-shelter ran for about two-and-a-half months after Hurricane Laura, and they are hoping it won’t be the same for Ida, that power can be restored to the areas these people came from, and that they can have shelter soon.
Donations can be made monetarily for the shelter here.
For physical donations can be dropped off at the United Way office (1101 Fourth St., Alexandria) or the Office of Public Health ( 5604B Coliseum Blvd., Alexandria)Currently, the shelter is in critical need of several items. For those looking to donate, they could use the following:
- Underwear – men and women, all sizes
- T-shirts – men and women, all sizes
- Sweatpants – men and women, all sizes
- Socks – men and women, all sizes
- Disposable Diapers – all sizes, mostly LG/XL
- Disposable cleaning cloths/wipes
- Toothbrush/toothpaste kits