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Rescue group discovers elderly, disabled residents stranded in Lake Charles after Hurricane Laura

Posted at 4:50 PM, Sep 08, 2020

LAKE CHARLES, La. — A Texas-based volunteer rescue group is calling for an investigation after it discovered several elderly and disabled residents that were left behind after Hurricane Laura hit Lake Charles.

According to CrowdSource Rescue, numerous senior citizens were discovered on Aug. 29 at the Golden Arms apartment complex in Lake Charles who were left abandoned until CrowdSource and other volunteer groups helped rescue them.

CrowdSource states that the disabled senior citizens at the HUD-run facility told them that they didn’t know about mandatory evacuation order put in place for Calcasieu Parish ahead of Laura making landfall.

CrowdSource says that when they arrived on scene after the storm, they found residents that were overheated and in dirty diapers and left without food, water or electricity. Volunteers then administered relief and medical aid, while also making numerous calls to authorities about the situation.

CrowdSource states that they were able to contact multiple agencies and were able to get emergency services to arrive, but that they then left without properly aiding the residents.

According to an after-action report, CrowdSource and another volunteer group called AEROBridge were eventually able to evacuate 13 residents to the Metairie FEMA intake center and Gonzales FEMA medical shelter after attempting to work with emergency management.

The report states that more than 80 calls were placed to a variety of agencies before making the decision to evacuate the residents.

The group says that the circumstances surrounding the operation was a catastrophic failure in regards to official emergency management and first response agencies.

"We don’t believe that there was a proper evacuation before hand," said Matthew Marchetti, co-founder of CrowdSource Rescue. "What happened after that is wrong. These people got lost in the bureaucratic red tape."

Marchetti adds that a representative of the Louisiana Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit has contacted them and told them they would be looking into this.

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