Residents of Pecan Acres Apartments in Lake Charles were given an ultimatum this week; remove your property and belongings by Sept. 6 or consider them abandoned.
The management of the apartment complex released a statement on the community’s social media pages Tuesday advising all tenants that they would need to perform repairs on the complex immediately, following an assessment by the company Servpro.
“The reports we have seen from them confirm that there is significant damage throughout Pecan Acres and that the community, like most of those in the area, will remain without power and water/sewer for an unknown period of time,” the complex’s statement reads.
It goes on to advise residents that in order to restore the community as quickly as possible, all tenants must relocate “temporarily”. However, there is no further definition of that timeframe.
Tenant Latreca Harrell said the news only added to the stress she was already under having had to evacuate and find temporary shelter for herself and her daughter.
"This is devastating. It really is so hard to handle all at once. It feels like we’re being put in an impossible situation with no solution in sight. Most of us have nowhere to stay long-term, and nowhere to put our belongings,” Harrell stated.
Harrell said she has been staying in a hotel out of the area since just before Hurricane Laura made landfall, and said she immediately returned to the area the day after the Hurricane to see that her apartment within the complex had somehow escaped unscathed.
“I really felt good at first because it was like we had dodged a bullet somehow with everything else damaged around us. I was thinking we would be ok, but now this. I just don’t know what I’m supposed to do right now. I’m definitely not coming back here, not after being treated like this,” she stated.
Harrell said that she was even more frustrated by only hearing of the direction to remove her items through a social media post, and not through a representative of the apartment building.
Managers with the community say they have no access to working phone lines, including cell lines, and that social media and email have been their only means of communication with tenants. Harrell, however, said she never received any email regarding her need to remove her property, but saw the social media post after it was shared by a friend. She said she immediately made her way back to Lake Charles. What she found, she said, was just another hurtful blow.
In addition to finding her belongings removed from her own closet and walls and placed haphazardly in the center of her room, Harrell said she was also upset to find that her apartment door, and those of her neighbors, had been left unlocked and unchecked.
Only Servpro employees have been located on the complex grounds, with no signs of any apartment management staff or maintenance.
“No one asked me any questions at all as I walked through or went to my apartment. No one here is concerned with protecting anyone’s property at this point, and that is very alarming to me,” Harrell stated.
For now, Harrell said she is going to do her best to find a location to store her furniture and belongings, but with no transportation services anywhere in sight, she worries her efforts may be a lost cause.
It’s a frightening feeling for her after already having experienced such a great loss once before. In Sept. 2019, Harrell lost everything in a house fire. Her new apartment, she said, was a symbol to herself and her daughter that they could rebuild their lives successfully.
“This was me starting over. Everything I have was from me rebuilding from that disaster, and now I could lose it all again simply because I have no other options,” she stated.
Because Harrell’s apartment space sustained no visible damage, she has already been denied assistance from both FEMA and her renter’s insurance company.
In a statement to the American Press, Pecan Acres management officials claim they are attempting to work with tenants who are not able to remove their belongings, and say some residents have refused to leave regardless of the damage to their units and the work that has to be completed.
For those who do vacate and plan on returning, officials with the complex say they will not be charged rent or fees while they are unable to reside in their unit.
That statement also said several buildings within the community have incurred damage that will “outright prevent residents from returning until roofs are replaced and other damage is repaired”.
A timeframe for the work remains unknown.
“We are providing updates to our residents as fast as they are known to us. We have great empathy for the situation they are going through and appreciate their patience as we work through this. Indeed, everyone on our local management team has experienced the same type of damage and issues in their own homes. We are all in this together,” officials stated.