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."
OK, so they’re bentgrass, the type used on golf course greens. But grass is grass.
The Senate Finance Committee approved the bill Wednesday, despite opponents who argued it would shut down the storefront lenders.
A measure to allow the state to implement its own, less stringent plan for limiting carbon dioxide emissions unanimously passed the Senate.
FDA to regulate e-cigarettes, Jodie Foster gets married, Vermont to require labels on genetically-modified food, and more news for today, April 24, 2014.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
A push to expand Louisiana's Medicaid program as allowed under the federal health care has been overwhelmingly rejected by the Senate health committee.
Louisiana welfare recipients would be prohibited in state law from spending the federal assistance at lingerie shops, tattoo parlors, nail salons and jewelry stores, under a bill that received the support Wednesday of a House committee.
Senators will consider whether to prohibit private businesses in Louisiana from paying unequal wages to employees of different genders for the same job.
Rep. Joel Robideaux has delayed bill hearings and said unless a compromise can be reached, he won't bring up the legislation this session.
Once again, Lafayette Parish School Board President Hunter Beasley is focused on an issue that has nothing to do with the educational well-being of our public school children.
After exhausting his appeals all the way to the state Supreme Court, the owner of the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete has no legal remedy left save one: do an end run around the high court via a bill that would grandfather his “right” to keep a 550-pound tiger enclosed in a pin at his roadside business.
Louisiana poet Darrell Bourque has won the 2014 Louisiana Writer Award, given annually to recognize outstanding contributions to Louisiana's literary and intellectual life.
Drivers would have to secure dogs riding in truck beds while on interstate highways, if the Senate agrees to a bill backed by the House.
An effort to prohibit employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity was shelved Tuesday for the legislative session.
Louisiana won't lessen its penalties for marijuana possession, keeping laws on the books that allow people to be jailed up to 20 years for repeat offenses of having the drug in hand.
“This is one of the oldest divides that exists, and that divide is about the haves and the have-nots.”
It took a few weeks for the pitfalls to emerge in the governor’s $25 billion budget, but the time of judgment has finally arrived.
With pressure continuing to build for him to resign, Congressman Vance McAllister announced plans recently to remain secluded during the Easter break, but the Swartz Republican has said he’ll be back on the Hill casting votes and attending committee meetings when the congressional recess ends April 28.
A bid to limit the use of unmanned aircraft on private property in Louisiana stalled Monday in the Louisiana Senate.
A Shreveport lawmaker said Monday he's scrapping his proposal to name the Bible as Louisiana's official state book.
Attorney hopes fellow lawyers will join him in urging the D.A. to step aside and allow a competent, ethical challenger to take over the scandal-ridden office.
An official with the Louisiana Department of Education was arrested on a range of charges Friday after allegedly breaking into a home and brandishing a knife.
State Rep. Stuart Bishop says he’s concerned with the quality of Capitol Lake, but when it comes to Louisiana’s coastline, this Lafayette Republican doesn't seem to give a damn.
Democrats sweating this year's elections may be hoping that the Obama administration's latest delay to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline takes a politically fraught issue off the table for the midterms.
Louisiana lawmakers are entering the second half of their three-month regular legislative session, which must end by June 2. Where some of the major issues stand: