LAPLACE, La. -- It was an emotional day for families left homeless in the aftermath of Hurricane Isaac as the area’s last remaining Red Cross shelter shut down in LaPlace. The shelter’s closure stirred up a lot of confusion for the remaining families.
Around 8 p.m., the last families left the shelter, and emotions ran high as families were asked to leave before they were certain they would have a place to stay.
Boxes were piled up outside the shelter – it was all storm victims like Monica Marks had left. Her family was one of eight who were kicked out of the last remaining Red Cross shelter in LaPlace. The move to close the shelter sparked frustration and confusion over what comes next for those remaining in the shelter.
“I’m going to get me a tent and some sleeping bags and if I have to sleep on the ground tonight, that’s what the hell I’m going to do. Where’s our parish president? Where is she at?” said Marks.
Case workers were on site to help families find other options. Those with FEMA rental assistance could use the money to get hotel rooms about an hour away in Thibodeaux, prompting concerns for those with limited transportation.
“Two of my daughters are in high school. They haven’t been in school since this happened. They were supposed to start back this coming Monday,” said Mona Joseph. “Which means I would have to be here (LaPlace) from Thibodaux -- bell time is about 7 o’clock in the morning. That is not possible.”
Other people at the shelter were offered spots in homeless or battered women’s shelters in New Orleans. One woman, whose FEMA application is still pending, feared she would be out on the streets.
“Nowhere to go,” said Odessa Fleming. “I got three kids. I’m trying to figure out my next move.”
Red Cross officials acknowledged the challenges.
“There are a few challenges,” said Melissa Eugene, a spokesperson for the Red Cross. “There’s not a whole lot of apartments, etc. available nearby, so we are having to look at some locations outside the parish, and we’re working with people to make sure we can match them with something.”
Finally, after hours of frustration, the Red Cross was able to find a temporary bed for everyone at the shelter, including Monica Marks. DOTD provided transportation. But there is still a lot of uncertainty about what comes next.
“My children, my children, the frustration,” said Sylvia Johnson. “Where are they going to go? Where are we going to go?”
The families opted to either go to New Orleans to stay with Red Cross partner agencies. Some opted to stay in Thibodaux, while others are staying at New Wine Baptist Church.
St. John Parish officials said they are working with FEMA to bring in modular housing.