When we tuned into the news after Hurricane Laura made landfall, we saw a scene in Lake Charles that looked an awful lot like many of our own homes did after Hurricane Katrina made landfall, exactly fifteen years ago.
We remember and are so grateful for all the help that came pouring in from affiliate companies and through the National Association of Realtors when we faced our own horrors from Katrina. As neighbors, we feel it is our responsibility to do something for others now in the wake of Hurricane Laura. So, we got in touch with April Manuel, Executive Director of the Southwest Louisiana Association of Realtors. We wanted to know how the surrounding communities were doing and what we could do, in turn, to help.
What are the conditions currently like in Lake Charles?
“Currently, we have no electricity. I am working ‘remotely’ in my car with a power converter. I have my printer, laptop, and converter with a mini wifi box in the car. Since we have no cell towers, I have WiFi calling turned on on my cell. Luckily, we still somewhat have internet (she laughs)”
“As for our offices, we are fully operational. We are accepting phone calls and helping everyone we can. We have been blasting through social media and sending emails to get the word out letting people know we are here to help.”
Days removed from the landfall, how is the community handling things?
“One step at a time, or it gets overwhelming. Everyone’s just working with insurance adjusters and trying to chip away to make progress. Everyone is working together.”
And you personally, how are you and your family doing?
“I am just so grateful for my three kids’ safety and wellbeing through this. As long as my babies are okay, I’m okay.”
“My home is on piers. It was lifted from the piers, there is water in the sheetrock, and the roof is gone. The adjuster has come out to assess the damage, and they are deciding whether it’s a total loss or a total gut job.”
“Depending on the decision made on the level of damage, we could be living in an RV for the next 6 months or so while we wait to rebuild hour house. There are better days ahead, and we are confident this time will bring us together closer as a family!”
How were things in the Real Estate business in Lake Charles before the storm?
“Before the storm, and despite Covid, Southwest Louisiana was doing great! As we are seeing across the country, many people are willing to buy and sell due to low interest rates, and we had many months in 2020 with higher sales year over year.”
What do you see happening going forward?
“We’ll take a downward slope in transactions because of the damages. Everything needs repairs, and those will take time. But with so many people displaced now, there are just so many that simply need a new home. However, this community is strong, and we will rebuild!”
“People love living here. This is where their kids play ball. This is where families have roots. We believe our people (80k+) will come back, and in our case, the real estate market will be bigger and better than ever.”
How can people send help?
“We simply need hands on deck. We need lots of cleaning help because there is so much debris. Neighbors, along with their Realtors, are out cleaning up their yards and getting things in order, but it’s not easy…or cheap. One lady told me she was charged $15,000 for having a tree removed—literally just to chop it up and haul it away.”
“If you’ve been thinking about it, please take any opportunity to join clean up efforts. But bring your mosquito spray! That’s something that seems to be totally overlooked, but they are running rampant here.”
GARDNER, REALTORS and our partners at Bayou Title are joining forces to create a way to help those in need. Please join us in sending monetary support to those who were affected by Hurricane Laura. We will send all donations to
CLICK HERE to give to our relief campaign that will go directly to the Southwest Louisiana Association of Realtors who will distribute funds/supplies to those in need. They are accepting donations on Venmo (@SouthwestLouisiana-Association)
Our communities have been struck by natural disasters like this and many of us remember all too well the devastation we faced. We know the difference that a neighborly gesture of love can make. Let’s make a difference together.
Thank you for your generosity!