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."
LSU's governing board has backed new hospital privatization contracts that give hospital managers greater ease to leave the deal and fewer restrictions about must-have services.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu is courting young voters in several appearances across Louisiana this week, talking about her support for legislation that could lower students' college costs.
Coton de tulear joins Westminster; Paypal splitting from Ebay; first US Ebola diagnosis and more national and international news for Wednesday, October 1, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Stage 4 vet takes on cancer and reminds us all what it really means to get involved.
Is Mary fading as Vitter solidifies his lock on the fourth floor?
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration has renegotiated contracts for six LSU hospital privatization deals, hoping to reach a compromise with federal health officials that will keep Medicaid dollars flowing to the privatized patient services.
Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu is defending her record on gun rights, seeking to rebut sharp criticism from the NRA in a state where the right to bear arms is given special constitutional protection.
Citizens, you have less than a week to register to vote in the Nov. 4 election. Remember, if you don’t vote you can’t complain about the outcome. Well, you can but it’s kind of hypocritical.
After being forced out by its former landlords last year, the community garden has a new location and a 10-year lease.
The party says it has hit a milestone, reaching 10,000 registered voters in the state.
Defensive captain Junior Galette is disgusted by the Saints' sluggish start.
The use of $60 million in Louisiana's public school financing formula to pay for nearly three dozen charter schools violates the state constitution, a statewide teachers' union claimed Monday in a lawsuit.
February trial date indicates parties were unable to negotiate a settlement.
There was a time when United Ballot had a political stranglehold so tight on Lafayette’s black community it was nearly unbreakable, but that grip might be loosening.
The race for Lafayette city marshal may not be the most exciting of this year’s local political contests, but it could prove the most historic.
With the DA’s race too close to call and negative media coverage of Mike Harson on the ebb, will challenger Keith Stutes take the gloves off?
Gov. Bobby Jindal has been viewed as a health care policy wonk, and he's tried to build on that image ahead of a likely 2016 presidential campaign, positioning himself as the candidate with substantive ideas.
Jerry Jones watched what he called the best effort he's seen in 25 years as owner of the Dallas Cowboys in the first half, and that was before Tony Romo had the longest scramble of his career and DeMarco Murray finished off yet another 100-yard game.
Two of the most recognizable women in Republican politics, Sarah Palin and Mary Matalin, have been heavily involved in Louisiana’s current election cycle.
Even though the Louisiana Democratic Party has thrown its support behind former Gov. Edwin Edwards’ congressional bid, national Democrats are not expected to follow suit.
“[Mike] is no longer the energetic ADA that his recent ad is trying to portray. I just think Mike needs to get the hell out.” — Kermit Harson, DA Mike Harson’s brother
The New Orleans Saints have listed Jonathan Goodwin as questionable for Sunday night's game in Dallas, raising the prospect that second-year pro Tim Lelito will start at center for the first time.
The endorsements keep coming for District 9 LPSB candidate Jeremy Hidalgo, who picked up his fifth vow of support Thursday, this time from the Chamber’s political action committee.
Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter will be out knocking on doors this weekend with anti-abortion activists encouraging people to vote against his colleague, Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.