Struggling hotels staying afloat from back to back hurricanes amid pandemic

State News

LAFAYETTE, La (KLFY) — Hurricanes Laura and Delta have brought widespread devastation to Louisiana, but they are also helping hotels on the brink of shutting down.

News 10 first checked in with the Juliet Hotel in March when Coronavirus restrictions began.
Every room was reserved then canceled in one weekend. The owner, Lesa James had to layoff almost all her staff, but Hurricanes Laura and Delta changed that.

“We’ve been holding on with a lifeline,” explained James. A look inside The Juliet Hotel in Lafayette is a complete turnaround from Spring and Summer 2020.

James said her heart is heavy for those affected by Hurricanes Laura and Delta, but the natural disasters have been keeping her in business.

“We were renting one room out a night, literally, to renting 16 rooms out a night, 17 rooms out a night to families that lost everything,” James shared.

The back to back hurricanes have made hotel space limited for evacuees but also those coming to Louisiana for work.

“You definitely have to have a hotel,” Mike Compton said plainly. He’s from Florida but is in Louisiana for hurricane-related work. “We were staying in Baton Rouge and driving to Lake Charles back and forth every day, so we did that for three weeks and we were able to get in here.”

Carolyn Cruz is also from out of state and working in Louisiana. “It was so hard for us to even get a hotel when they first sent us down here,” she admitted. “The hotels are just really booked up, and it’s hard to get a room in any hotel.”

The extra business is letting the hotels rehire staff they had to let go. Samuel Foret was hired the day before the stay-at-home order for the Coronavirus was issued, but he was brought back after Hurricane Laura.

Foret said, “Luckily, I was able to sort of coast those couple of months there while I was waiting for the job to come back, but I didn’t know is the hotel going to go under?
Is that going to be a job that remains?”

Despite the current silver lining, James said she is uncertain whether hotels will remain busy once the worst of hurricane season passes.

“Every day it was a challenge and scary, and it’s still scary,” she shared. “Once Lake Charles is built and some people are probably going to move into apartments, and a lot of people can go home, we still don’t know what our business is going to look like.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.