NEW ORLEANS — Audrey Price and her 9-year-old son, Brayden, tried to escape Hurricane Laura's deadly force. Car troubles got them from their home in Carlyss to Lake Charles, where they rode out the storm in a church.
“We fought for our life all night long,” she recalled Tuesday. “The roof was ripped off, my husband was almost sucked out trying to hold the door shut from sucking everybody out. I mean, it was horrible.”
Brayden recalled the aftermath. “There was a truck in someone's house, a brick house.”
The Price family might now be safe and sound in New Orleans, but they say they have little left to return to.
“We owned our home and didn't have insurance,” Audrey Price said.
“Some people came here with the clothes on their backs,” said Collin Arnold, the city’s emergency preparedness director. “Some people didn't have shoes.“
"I'm here literally with nothing,” said Joseph Tourres. “I have my car and that's it. Thank God.”
Tourres also only wound up in the city after getting stuck in Lake Charles as Laura roared ashore. He's been out of work because of the COVID-19 outbreak, and he says now he's out of money since his unemployment payments stopped showing up. “It's only $228 a week, but that's a lot of money when you've got nothing.”
He approached Mayor LaToya Cantrell for help Tuesday after she wrapped up a press conference at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center to discuss services available to evacuees.
He said Cantrell promised to put him in touch with someone who could take a look at the issues with his unemployment payments.
“I'm about to lose my mind,” he said, “and she just gave me a little piece of mind.”
City Hall said it's also getting nervous about money. With an extra 10,000 people calling the city home right now while evacuated, extra costs are mounting.
Cantrell says the new costs are on top of COVID-related expenses. The city has asked for $91.5 million of CARES Act money to cover those costs.
The state has sent $43.4 million.
“You know, I'm feeling like Jerry Maguire with … Cuba Goodding Jr. Show me the money? That's kind of where I am right now,” Cantrell said.
The state said it's issued payments based on a formula to make sure each local government gets its fair share of money. For those stuck in New Orleans, waiting to go home, they say they'll do the best they can with what little they do have.
“I do what I can where I can. I'll still help people even though I need help. You know? That's all we got is each other,” he said. The resource center at the convention center will be open until at least Friday. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.