There is more fallout from Lafayette Consolidated Government's call for churches to put a pause on opening shelters in the city.
On Saturday, amid ongoing protests over the shooting death of Trayford Pellerin by Lafayette Police, Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory told viewers Lafayette is under control and will be okay. Sunday, an email surfaced from Chief Administrative Officer Cydra Wingerter urging churches to put a "pause" on shelters for Laura evacuees, citing ongoing unrest in Lafayette.
The "pause" on shelters in Lafayette made national headlines Monday.
The reporting based solely on LCG emails and statements was later referred to as misleading and misinformation. LCG said any inference that the city is refusing to house evacuees is not true.
In Monday's follow up statement, Wingerter said seeing pedestrians carrying semi-automatic weapons and wearing bullet-proof vests was concerning not only for her, but she says pastors were also hesitant to open shelters because of the unrest.
"Evacuees are here," said Melinda Taylor, the Executive Director of Lafayette Habitat for Humanity and chair for Acadiana VOAD. "There are hundreds of people from the Lake Charles area and the affected areas to the west of us who are in local hotels or may have other arrangements."
Acadiana VOAD is a volunteer organization that helps coordinate disaster assistance, including shelters.
"We never had any intentions of opening a mass congregate shelter," Taylor said.
Congressman Clay Higgins said, "I'm not going to Monday morning quarterback Mayor Guillory. He stands with the police. Lafayette has come under threat. His home and family felt threatened."
Despite the pandemic, Congressman Higgins is calling for community shelters.
"I begged the state government to please relax COVID-19 restrictions on community shelters. Let these high schools, elementary schools and local municipal officials, let them stand up their shelters which we've done generationally," Higgins said.f
Congressman Higgins has toured the damage and says the situation is especially dire in Calcasieu and Cameron Parishes.
"You're not alone Louisiana. Whatever is in the way of your recovery, we will remove it," Higgins said.
We reached out to Governor Edwards office for comment on Congressman Higgins' request for community shelters.
A spokesperson said, "As Gov. Edwards has said, there is still a lot of COVID-19 in our state and because of that the state is focused on using non-congregate shelters, such as hotels, rather than the traditional congregate or mass shelters to keep our people safe. Prior to the storm making landfall, Gov. Edwards requested and Pres. Donald Trump approved Category B federal assistance for non-congregate shelters because of the amount of COVID-19 in our state. As of today, we have nearly 20,000 Louisianans being housed in hotels between Louisiana and Texas. The Governor understands that those who have been impacted by Hurricane Laura want to be as close to home as possible but the destruction caused by Hurricane Laura is widespread, and it will take weeks before electricity is restored even with thousands of crews from multiple states working as hard as possible to get everything up and working. The idea that we would house large numbers of people in large congregate shelters for weeks without electricity when the President has already approved housing Louisianans in hotels does not make any sense and puts the safety of the public at risk."
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