SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The population at Shreveport’s state-run shelter for Hurricane Ida evacuees swelled to nearly 900 Monday as buses continued to arrive from south Louisiana.
As of Monday afternoon, there were 891 evacuees at the Shreveport shelter, up more than 750 since Wednesday. Most of them came over the weekend as it became clear it could be weeks before power and other basic services will be restored in some of the hardest-hit areas.
“It’s better than where we were at,” said Emery Chaney. “We weren’t getting anything. They weren’t feeding us or none of that. We were just on our own, so that’s why I really came here,”
“I wanted to go home for the aftermath,” said Candace McClutshy. “But I’m here now and we got some great people caring for us. I mean, I haven’t come across anyone without a smile on their face.”
Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services spokesman Sean Ellis said Saturday that capacity at the Shreveport shelter is currently limited to 1,200 beds, which is half the normal capacity because of spacing requirements due to COVID-19.
The shelter provides a place to sleep and shower, along with three meals a day and even transportation to local stores for basic needs. But there is little privacy, and some feel not enough social distancing.
“We want to be treated right as citizens of this country. There is no such thing as social distancing in there. The cots are side by side, it is no six feet apart,” Darren Brown said.
“They only have a piece of tarp that’s blocking us from taking a shower. I see men peeking through,” said 19-year-old New Orleans native Wakell Duncan. “The tarps keep falling down. They don’t have security guards watching us around the clock 24/7 and I feel very unsafe.”
The facility has partnered with a number of local agencies for safety, including the Caddo Sheriff’s Office, Shreveport Police, DOTD, Shreveport Fire Department EMS, and the Louisiana National Guard. They are also working with the United Way of Northwest Louisiana to help evacuees find food, housing, and closing.
The Salvation Army is also collecting donations of clothing and basic necessities for those staying at the shelter. Click here to find out what is most needed and how to donate.
As for how many more evacuees can be expected to show up here, site manager Vernon Price can’t say for sure.
“At this point, we aren’t expecting any more buses of people but we might have a few vans come through with a few people,” said Price.
How long they might have to stay will depend on how quickly power is restored and the availability of accommodations closer to home.
“Their parishes would have to clear it before we start sending them back. Now we will have FEMA on-site here either Wednesday or Thursday, and FEMA is going to be able to assist them in getting hotels and that kind of stuff until we can get them back home.”