Options in Baton Rouge are limited for flood victims looking for hotels

Options in Baton Rouge are limited for flood victims looking for hotels
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Many looking to stay in a hotel while repairing their flooded homes or waiting for a more permanent residence may be forced to find rooms outside of the Capital region.

As of Friday, Aug. 19, there were 2,700 rooms made available for flood victims, according to Gov. John Bel Edwards. However, only a handful are located near Baton Rouge.

"The challenge is there are no rooms, period. The closest rooms we are hearing about are in Metairie or Lafayette," said Barry Hughes, the director of sales at the Embassy Suites on Constitution Avenue in Baton Rouge.

There is a website listing the hotels where certain evacuees can sign up for long-term stays of up to 30 days at a time. People who registered with FEMA and are currently staying in a shelter, hotel, car, or their place of employment can qualify for those hotel stays.

As of Monday, August 22, only two hotels with availabilities for evacuees are located in the city of Baton Rouge. Many are several parishes away.

The reason for the shortfall of rooms may have something to do with the number of emergency teams in the Baton Rouge area. In the Capital City, the larger hotels like the Embassy Suites are overflowing with out-of-town crews from Cox, Entergy, and FEMA that are here to help with the recovery. Those companies have contracts for dozens of rooms each for emergency situations.

This is bad news for evacuees who turned to local hotels as a place to wait out the storms. With other reservations on the books, including those emergency crews, some may have no option but to now vacate their hotel rooms.

"Hotels have a right to free a room when they need to. People can't stay endlessly," said Bill Langkopp, the executive vice president of the Louisiana Hotel and Lodging Association.

"It's a very delicate balance between guests that you have in house that are due to check and how you are going to accommodate these people who are here to help the entire community. It's not a happy situation," Hughes said.

At the Embassy Suites in Baton Rouge, some have been allowed to stay, but only on a case-by-case basis.

"You have to be humane, you have to be compassionate. We have probably about 20 people in the hotel that should have left but because of their situation we allowed them to stay," Hughes said.

The governor is expected to announce long-term housing options on Wednesday, August 24. Mobile homes are reportedly one of the main ideas up for consideration.

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