As they traveled west, they called hotels all the way trying to find rooms. "We tried all the way to El Paso, Texas," Al Jr. says. They found a room at the Ramada Inn in Lafayette.
"They had a room with no air conditioning," the elder Pape says. "We said, 'We'll take it.' We needed the bathroom and the water. Then they turned around and told us they got an air-conditioned room, and we said OK. We kept asking for [further] reservations, and they kept saying they weren't taking reservations. So this afternoon the guy tells us, 'You gotta go. We got reservations.'" He doesn't know what the problem was since the hotel had his credit card on file and could charge him for every day his family was there.
"Next thing you know there was a cop knocking at the door," he adds, "and he was real nice. The Lafayette police were super."
Eric Norris, the Ramada Inn's general manager, declined comment on the Pape family situation and also declined comment when asked if guests were being allowed to stay in the hotel for an indefinite amount of time. "If I had 500 other rooms," he says, "I could probably rent them." Norris says that just about all of the guests of the Ramada Inn have fled from the New Orleans area.
On Tuesday, Aug. 30, the Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission sent out a fax to local hotels. The fax requested, at the urging of Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, to allow guests to extend their stays for as long as needed and asked that hotel staff members contact individuals with prior reservations to ask them to make other plans. (On Friday, Gov. Kathleen Blanco ordered all Louisiana hotels to continue to house evacuees.)
"Please keep in mind that the people you are refusing to extend reservations for have nowhere to go," the fax states. "They have lost their homes and are looking for us to help." The fax also reported that Lafayette Police Chief Randy Hundley "has advised his officers not enforce" a Louisiana law concerning the eviction of hotel guests.
Cpl. Mark Francis of the Lafayette Police Department says that's not the case. "We're going to evaluate every case on a case by case basis," he says. "Of course, we will follow the law in every case. We're not turning a blind eye to the law. We'll evaluate the situations, and by no means are we going to do anything that would violate the law."
Louisiana Revised Statute 21:75 states that a hotel guest cannot stay in a room past the time agreed upon when checking in, but has to be given an hour's notice to vacate. Revised Statute 21:76 makes it possible for an "appropriate lawful authority" to evict a guest if the conditions of the previous statute have been met, but does allow for an exception of "serious medical emergency requiring the continued use of the room or campsite."
Breaux says there are an estimated 4,750 hotel rooms in Lafayette. "We're trying to see if there are any rooms available," he says, "and there are none that we know of."
In the meantime, the Papes have found refuge at the Cajundome. "We've been trying to rent a house," the elder Pape says, "because we figured we were going to be here for a while. A couple of places we talked to wanted $450 a week. That's almost $2,000 a month to rent a house. That's crazy."
But he also says it's difficult to even think of any long term plans now. "You just go day by day," he says. "It's taking time for it to sink in. It's so hard to even think about anything."
The fight to clean up Lafayette Parish could get some added ammunition with two ordinances up for votes Tuesday by the City-Parish Council targeting litter-bugs.
By striking a deal to lessen the blow of health insurance changes on state workers, school employees and retirees, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration lowered the volume of criticism but gave itself and local school boards a new budget headache.
With the airport tax coming up for a parishwide vote in about a week, the Broussard City Council and its mayor have come out in support of the proposal.
Protesters rallied peacefully in several Louisiana cities in the wake of the Missouri grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of Michal Brown.
US cities bidding on Olympics; Guard prevents more Ferguson riots; storm threatens travel and more national and international news for Wednesday, November 26, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
The U.S. rep billed LSU for work allegedly performed on the same days Congress voted on major legislation and held important committee hearings on energy and the ACA.
Abysmally low participation by the public has prompted the council to scuttle the 2014 survey with plans to simplify it and try again next year.
The village now says the ordinance will likely be overturned and authorities will more vigorously enforce existing leash laws.
Bill Cassidy cast an early ballot Tuesday, seeking to draw renewed attention to a race that has fallen off newspaper front pages and away from people's minds as they plan holiday meals and shopping schedules.
Battered all night by Baltimore's relentless pass rush, Drew Brees could feel his protection collapsing and Terrell Suggs getting ahold of him as he urgently unloaded a pass to the right flat toward tight end Jimmy Graham.
After a convincing defeat at the polls on Nov. 4, Earl “Nickey” Picard has decided to let bygones be bygones with his former right-hand man Brian Pope, announcing his support for his former employee’s runoff bid to become Lafayette’s next city marshal.
Saturday the athletic department did everything possible to ensure the 2014 Ragin’ Cajun seniors remembered fondly their last home game. Rain and lightning never arrived but turbulence did in the form of the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Even stranger than the Republican Party’s decision to hold a “unity rally” earlier this month for Congressman Bill Cassidy in a Baton Rouge bar, Huey’s Bar, was the fact that the establishment was named after Louisiana’s most famous Democrat.
Bar Code is not a gay bar.
After failing to pass a medical marijuana bill last year, state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, is telling supporters he will return in 2015 with legislation that focuses on different applications like oils and pills.
Voters, obviously, are not yet tuned into the 2015 ballot, despite the intriguing races it will host.
By now, the story of how longtime LSU coach Dale Brown discovered Shaquille O'Neal has been told many times: Brown happened upon a massive 13-year-old at an army base in Germany, stayed in touch with him and eventually became like a second father.
Fate simply wasn't ready to give the New Orleans Saints a break from longtime nemesis Steve Smith.
Lafayette Police have had a busy day.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration will use $130 million in patchwork financing from a tax amnesty program, insurance settlement, uninsured motorist penalties and other excess funds to close most of the state's midyear budget deficit.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said she disagrees with President Barack Obama's actions on immigration, hoping the latest controversy doesn't worsen her campaign difficulties.
Gay-rights advocates challenging Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban announced Thursday that they have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case before it is heard by a federal appeals court.
Thinking himself the “son of God,” the man charged with the 2013 killing of an officer of the Chitimacha Tribal Police will not stand trial following a ruling Thursday on his mental competency.
Either Saints coach Sean Payton doesn't want to tip Baltimore off as to who'll start in New Orleans' secondary on Monday night, or he really doesn't know yet.