The Forgotten City

By | November 30, 2020

On August 27, 2020, Category 4 Hurricane Laura slammed into the southwest Louisiana community. The city of Lake Charles was completely devastated and will take years to recover.

About a month later, on October 4, 2020, Category 2 Hurricane Delta made landfall and soaked the already-damaged city with more than half a foot of rain.

Our team of WUFT journalists spent days in the recovery zone, seeking out the people most affected by the two hurricanes. Nearly every single person interviewed for this special agreed that if the storms had struck higher-populated areas, the news coverage would be much more significant.

But being a small community, Lake Charles had to instead rely on its own people. These are their stories, highlighting the perseverance, struggles and undying hope of those in the Forgotten City. 

Hope After Disaster

Lake Charles resident Betty Jefferson evacuated the city when Hurricane Laura hit. When she returned, the only thing left of her home was the structural beams. After losing everything, she was helped by one disaster relief organization that gave her hope once again.

Faith is Not the Building

Religion is an enormous part of society in southwest Louisiana with Catholicism at the forefront. We explore how faith brings the community together even during the most difficult times.

Saints Weather the Storms

In all of the southeast US, football and sports play huge roles in everyday life. Brooks Habetz, a 15-year-old student at St. Louis Catholic High School shows how sports can bring a sense of normalcy while overcoming his own devastation.

Louisiana Crawfish: An Unknown Season

Crawfish – a Louisiana delicacy. One of the most popular cuisines in southwest Louisiana, the industry is struggling to recover from the flooding from the two hurricanes.

One Rev at a Time

Local businesses in Lake Charles are still continuing to recover, nearly four months after Hurricane Laura. Built in 1929, the oldest Harley Davidson in the entire state of Louisiana calls Lake Charles home. Co-owner Billy Doherty and his family have ridden out hurricanes for years. But Laura was a little different. It was unlike anything Doherty had ever seen.

Bringing Back the Music

Southwest Louisiana relies heavily on the tourism industry to bring revenue to the area. With COVID-19 already taking its toll on the area, two major hurricanes exacerbated the problem even more. They forced one band to make a major move in order to stay afloat.

Home Cooked Meals from the Heart

When our reporters returned from southwest Louisiana, each echoed one central sentiment from the area – the overwhelming kindness and generosity from every single person they met. One local restaurant owner, Richard Cole, exemplified that notion to the fullest extent.

Meet the team behind the project.