Hurricane victims and homeless people housed in hotels for weather

LAKE CHARLES — United Way of Southwest Louisiana reserved hotel rooms for hurricane victims and the homeless when the threat of below-average winter temperatures was announced.

The non-profit organization’s 211 resource line has registered nearly 700 individual families in need of a warm place for the freezing weather that is coming, according to Friday’s news release.

“We are hosting 634 people tonight at nine local hotels,” said Denise Durel, president and CEO of United Way of Southwest Louisiana. “I am devastated by the 434 community members who requested a room, and we were unable to meet the need.”

United Way of Southwest Louisiana provides breakfast, snacks and some lunches, with partners providing the rest, they say.

Catholic Charities of SWLA and AETNA Better Health of La also offer meals to customers.

The Louisiana National Guard provides bottled water to customers at several locations.

In its relief efforts, United Way of Southwest Louisiana says it provided rooms at Water’s Edge for its homeless program.

“We are aware of the number of people who need help during these winter storms,” said Durel. “Our mission is long-term impact, but we always act quickly in emergencies to make sure no one suffers. We also hope that we can help some of these people with the root cause of their homelessness and move them forward in their lives.”

As of Thursday night, the team provided 455 people with rooms at seven hotels, but a donation from St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church allowed that number to increase to 634 people at nine area hotels or motels.

To help United Way of Southwest Louisiana shelter members of the local community during harsh winter weather, text the keyword WINTER to 40403 or online at

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