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Southeast Texas hotels forced to turn away Louisiana evacuees due to maxed capacity

An elderly man was forced to sleep in his car, at a truck stop due to the lack of space in some Southeast Texas hotels.

ORANGE, Texas — Traffic was backed up Saturday night on Interstate 10 as Louisiana evacuees drove to safety, but when some finally arrived to Texas, they could not find a place to stay.

Louisiana residents evacuated to Texas for safety ahead of Hurricane Ida. However, hotels all around the area have been completely booked for days and have had to turn away evacuees due to maxed capacity.

“Last night, there was this man, this elderly man, he came in and, you know, he's not really up to date with smart phones and what not. He didn’t know where he was at. He just wanted a hotel,’ Nicole Aymond, front desk employee at the Holiday Inn in Orange, said. “We tried calling around. We couldn't even find a hotel all the way in Houston. They were all booked, so he just had to pull over and sleep at a truck stop.”

The Orange Holiday Inn’s entire parking lot was full of cars from Louisiana. 

“It was just really sad,” Aymond said. “We tried for like an hour trying to find him a hotel. People crying on the phone. Babies screaming in the background. People getting in wrecks, calling desperate for a place to stay and, I mean, we can't just let them sleep in the lobby."

While hotels are booked up, evacuees can seek shelter at the Orange Church of God located at 1911 N. 16th Street.

Willie Matherne, a resident of Metairie, Louisiana who has been sharing reports of major structural damage throughout that areas, was able to find shelter at the Holiday Inn in Orange.

"Well, the biggest concern right now is how much damage I'm going to have on my house," Matherne said.  "I live by myself, so it makes it hard. I have to hire somebody to do it or have friends come do it."

Matherne like many other evacuees went to Orange because they have family that lives there, and because of the hurricane's eastward path, he said.

The common fear all evacuees seem to share is seeing the devastating damage they might return to when they finally do go home. Some evacuees are worried about storm-related damage due to their lack of insurance.

"I live month to month on salary so, I don’t have no insurance on my house," Pearl Rogers, Bourg, Louisiana resident, said.

Other are not sure how they will repair their homes, and others are thinking about loved ones who stayed behind to help.

"Weather don’t bother me a whole lot, just the water,” Brian Hebert, Dularge, Louisiana resident, said. “That’s my main concern right now is just the water."

Others are concerned about how the pandemic will make getting repairs done nearly impossible.

"You know, it's been bad with the pandemic and everything just to get contractors to do anything,” Darryl Martin, Destrehan, Louisana resident, said. “God knows what's going to happen when this is all over trying to get repairs done, if you have the capability of getting them done.”

Evacuees said all anyone can do is cross their fingers and hope that the damage that Hurricane Ida brought to Louisiana is not too bad.

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