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."
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, April 18, 2014:
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”
Education Superintendent John White says a continued push to try to keep Louisiana from using tests associated with the Common Core education standards are creating "a state of chaos" for public school teachers.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to use $210 million in surplus and one-time money to help balance next year's budget received the backing Thursday of the State Bond Commission, support that was needed for the maneuver to work.
State wildlife and fisheries agents have arrested a 39-year-old man accused of stealing crawfish.
An East Feliciana Parish lawmaker has jettisoned his proposal to make it harder for a condemned prisoner to appeal a death sentence.
Senators advanced a proposal Wednesday that would let the governor remove New Orleans-area levee board members for violating what he considers to be public policy, despite concerns it would introduce political meddling into state flood protection.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday will vote on a resolution that if approved would clear the way for a December ballot proposition asking voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax parishwide to help fund the construction of a new terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport.
Just days before the fourth anniversary of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and oil spill, the Coast Guard has moved cleanup of Louisiana's coast to a new phase, allowing BP to end its "active" efforts in the area.
Legislators still must leave their guns at the door of the Louisiana Capitol.
Sen. Fred Mills may have an "R" behind his name, but his actions in the Louisiana Legislature transcend the established boundaries of his party.
The Louisiana House overwhelmingly rejected a repeal of the state's unconstitutional anti-sodomy law Tuesday.
The Louisiana Senate sided with Gov. Bobby Jindal and the oil industry Tuesday, agreeing to void a lawsuit that a south Louisiana flood board filed against more than 90 oil and gas companies for coastal damage.
Acadian rep notifies would-be supporters that an April 25 fundraiser for the embattled U.S. rep won’t go on as planned.
While it isn’t all too unusual for public bodies to have hired security present during meetings, the LPSB’s push to do so is arguably a response to the antics of one board member.
“I’m running. Why would I be raising all this money? Just to have to return it to people?”
With incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu watching from afar, and with a united Democratic Party in her corner, the fight to get the GOP officially behind Congressman Bill Cassidy is gaining just as much momentum as it is hushed controversy.
15th Judicial District Judge Durwood Conque has announced that he will not seek re-election after 27 years on the bench.
The controversial standardized tests are set to be used in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year.
The Louisiana Senate has agreed to prohibit unmanned aircraft from flying over chemical plants, water treatment systems, telecommunications networks and other items considered "critical infrastructure" in Louisiana.
It didn’t take long for KATC TV 3 to jump all over the news of a dead body found in Girard Park, but in its rush to produce headlines, the local TV station got sloppy.
An unholy trinity of civil-society upheavalers whose first names are not Conner, Tanner or Logan are facing charges in Eunice.
Now that lawmakers have shot down efforts to cap annual interest rates for payday loans, supporters for stricter regulations of the storefront lenders are rallying behind another strategy.