With Louisiana Hotels Prioritizing Hurricane Ida Aid, It Might Be Difficult to Get a Room |
Governor John Bel Edwards has authorized hotels and motels to cancel reservations and other contracts with prospective customers to ensure that power line workers, healthcare workers and thousands of other Hurricane Ida responders continue to have a place to stay.
This could mean that others will struggle to find rooms in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and other parts of Southeast Louisiana.
The decree, which lasts until at least September 24 but could be extended, means hotels can keep seats for all those workers indefinitely and not face any problems if they have to cancel reservations made months before, said state officials Tuesday.
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The decree is similar to the one issued after Hurricane Katrina 16 years ago. It was released because hotel officials and others predicted a crisis in space, especially in the Baton Rouge area during the upcoming college football season, hotel officials said. , state and local.
The hotels are providing beds for 25,000 people, counting only the workers who restore power to Southeast Louisiana’s broken power grid, federal officials said Tuesday.
Officials representing Louisiana’s rural power co-ops said on Saturday, ahead of the release of Edwards’ order on Monday afternoon, that at least 100 linemen had already been told they were not extending their stay in the townships. Louisiana hotels. The reasons were largely unclear.
“Right now, the priority for the entire state of Louisiana is recovery from Hurricane Ida, and we just can’t afford to get out one of our first responders, employees of health or utility workers out of their hotel room for any reason, ”Edwards said. “It is unacceptable that those who work tirelessly to support our state are kicked out onto the streets. “
Entergy officials said they had not encountered similar issues.
In the Baton Rouge area, where nearly 100% of hotel rooms are in use, Edwards’ order likely means people wanting to book a room for at least the next three weeks might struggle to find a spot. .
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“There’s no room at the hostel, if you mean to put it that way… Baton Rouge Square.” So, are there any vacancies available? If there are, they are scarce, and it would be a scavenger hunt to find availability right now. “
Nathaniel Tannehill, general manager of the Renaissance Baton Rouge hotel, said about 70% of his 256-bed hotel on Bluebonnet Boulevard, just south of Interstate 10, is used by workers responding to Ida.
Tannehill said some people with reservations in the coming weeks or months have already canceled those reservations themselves. Some of these people are from southern Louisiana and were affected by the storm themselves.
In other cases, he said, the hotel called people and explained to them that they needed to book rooms for workers trying to help “rebuild our community.”
“Most of them understand. They understand. You know, either they experience it or they have seen it. They have heard of it,” he said.
In New Orleans, the city lost two major conventions over the next 15 days to Ida, but tourism officials said they believed hotels would still be able to handle rescuers and newcomers. visitors to the congress relaunch as the city returns. To normal.
“We plan to resume operations and manage visitors and emergency responders by next week,” said Stephen Perry, president and CEO of New Orleans & Company, the convention and visitors bureau from the city.
Between September 1 and Friday, hotels in the city’s downtown area – in the French Quarter, Central Business District, and Warehouse District – were fully supplied by the electricity grid.
Hotels, which account for about 90% of the city’s bed space and account for 27,000 rooms, still needed about three days to refurbish guest rooms after being supplied.
But Perry said he didn’t expect a more comprehensive capacity to significantly relieve stress in Baton Rouge.
Even before the grid was restored, hotels in New Orleans housed generator-powered power liners – although for a few days the air conditioning did not work at full capacity.
Perry provided a rough estimate that New Orleans hotels house at least 2,500 to 3,000 power line workers.
Still, Edwards’ order potentially poses a significant question mark for visitors from out of town and state planning to come to LSU and University of the South football games, particularly if the order is extended beyond its original duration and at the heart of the conference game.
The full impact was not clear on Tuesday. LSU and other sports departments did not immediately respond to questions for comment.
The order currently runs, retroactively, from Thursday August 26 to Friday September 24, but Shauna Sanford, spokesman for the governor, said the order could be extended if necessary.
Paul Arrigo, President and CEO of Visit Baton Rouge, noted that post-storm responders are coming in waves. First the workers come to restore power and other basic services, then later the adjusters, federal workers and contractors arrive to complete the restoration process.
“We don’t know how long this will last. My feeling is that it will likely impact us for well over six months, as it did in Lake Charles (after Hurricane Laura last year) “said Arrigo.
He said the Baton Rouge tourism industry was working quickly to educate convention visitors and fans of future football games of the impact the hurricane response is expected to have on the hotel space.
Southern and LSU both have non-conference home games over the next two weekends. Then, on the weekend of September 25, the two universities play out of town for their first conference games: LSU at Mississippi State University and Southern at Mississippi Valley State.
They both return for big conference games in early October: LSU vs. Auburn University on October 2 and Southern vs. Texas Southern University on October 9.
Perry, the New Orleans tourism official, said he didn’t expect many Louisiana residents looking for a hotel for an LSU or South Baton Rouge football game. book a hotel room in New Orleans and then face the ride back to their room on a Game Night.