How Do You Promote a City Ravaged by Hurricanes?

As a 24-year-old relationship representative in her hometown, Kathryn Shea Duncan eats, sleeps and breathes Lake Charles, La.

The working town, with about 80,000 people and located inland from the Gulf of Mexico, is the largest city he grew up and visited, where he spent Thanksgiving with family. He rented his first house in Lake Charles. He met his girlfriend, Ryan Beeson, at the Panorama Music House in town. They can tell you the best place to find a baby boy, catch an alligator baby or a crab on dry land.

But Duncan’s determination to stay in the city has been undermined by hurricanes that have damaged the area and surrounding areas this year. Thousands of people are homeless, and aid – through charitable and voluntary donations – has made it difficult to come up with a nation that is fighting the outbreak of coronavirus and is being politically disrupted. (The mayor, Nic Hunter, has been working to raise awareness of his city, appearing on CNN, Fox News and NPR, where he told the audience, “I beg you, I beg the Americans not to forget about Lake Charles.”

Duncan’s mother asks how he will continue to work to promote his favorite place.

“The truth is, what are we supposed to do?” he said. “What event? What is the opening? We know that all our hotels will be filled until the end of the year with staff and first responders. Then, soon, it was the families who left home. ”

It has also changed his mind about the future. (Charles Lake is not found on the coast, but is still subject to frequent storms, coastal changes and water changes.)

“You start thinking, what does your house look like?” That’s what Duncan said. “What does your job look like? What does everything I do to earn money, and promote money, look like? ”

Prior to the hurricane, Duncan’s work was a reporter for foreign writers and journalists from the Charles and Southwest Louisiana, as well as the Creole Nature Trail, a spectacular trail that allows travelers through the Louisiana grassland and alligator habitats, and Adventure Point attractions. which children can make real hunting tools and scented spices used in cooking in Louisiana.

“We were still talking about the Covid-19 era,” he said, “but we couldn’t get anyone, because we can’t do this safely.” When Hurricane Laura struck, her superiors simply wanted to “save our lives.”

On August 25, the night Laura’s fall, Beeson and Duncan were at Duncan’s mother’s home in Crowley, La., A town about a quarter of Lake Charles’s size, and about an hour from the car.

Beeson woke Mrs. Duncan in the middle of the night. “I know you don’t want to see this, but I think you should know what’s going on,” he said, handing Ms. Duncan his phone. It unveiled a photo of the Panorama Music House, which is completely destroyed.

“Actually, it had just collapsed,” Duncan said. “Like a waterfall.”

The owners were in the process of constructing a small, state-of-the-art museum dedicated to the history of Lake Charles, which Mrs. Duncan was delighted to invite. (Country singer, Lucinda Williams, for example, was born and raised nearby and named one of her most popular songs in town.)

“I just sat there, crying,” Duncan said. “Grief can be devastating.”

The typhoon, the fourth hurricane, killed more than 6,000 people in Lake Charles. Wind damage left small homes and supermarkets, such as Best Buy and Hobby Lobby, in pieces, and thousands of people had no electricity for several weeks.

The Duncan’s house survived with minor damage, but their office had to be rebuilt. The friend had the worst. “He was damaged on the roof, which is why he is pulling out his side,” he said. “She can’t be there. And she is a nurse. ”

Then, in October, Hurricane Delta stormed Lake Charles. Mrs. Duncan went upstairs again, putting her TV in her closet and taking pictures of her late father.

The Duncan family has lived in this part of Louisiana for generations, and they have roots in the original Cajuns who were exiled to Acadia, Canada, and the British in the 18th century.

Physically, the government has changed dramatically since then. In 2014, the map was redesigned due to coastal deficits, and hurricanes occur more frequently – and more dangerously – than ever before. But Ms. Duncan is committed to doing this.

“We can be better,” he said. “Through economic development and rehabilitation of infrastructure, clean sanitation, and better transportation. You can’t do great things if you don’t stay every day. ”

“I’m a man who loves a better future,” said Duncan, as he sat in his barn in Lake Charles, under a map of Louisiana. “I always plan for the next five years.”

It is understandable that Mrs. Duncan may have gone to the other end. But Lake Charles is his home, he said. And quitting didn’t sound as fun as being too long.

“If I were to move somewhere with a million people, it would be pointless to try to change,” he said. “But if I could be here, and be brave, live in a city of 80,000, where everyone thinks and does the same thing, and I’m a millennium who probably has no ideas and experiences like the ones around me, I can change.”

He added, “When I leave, who will be left? Who will be the one?”

October was another story. With the Delta hurricane left at Lake Charles, he and Mr. Beeson moved in again, this time to San Antonio to be with friends. Because of the amount of traffic, a five-hour drive usually took them 12. “To be honest with you, I want to move,” Duncan said. “I was devastated. I was angry that this happens. ”

But after the storm, Mrs. Duncan was devastated to see the team work together to rebuild. It’s fun, he said, to be with them. There is a Facebook group in their area, where people search for each other, making sure they all have what they want.

“Even though our mail mother is a member,” said Duncan, “and two days later Laura wrote that she was going home, and she would get to the point where she would be gone.”

It made Mrs. Duncan think again about their frustration. “I was like, OK, maybe I need to quit, and stay here for a while,” he said, adding that he felt there was a reason he was here.

Now, back in the satellite office, Mrs. Duncan and his team are preparing to budget for next year, trying to come up with a plan to resell Lake Charles. It’s about rebuilding, but rebuilding well, and taking advantage of new things that may emerge during this dark time in the city’s history.

“There could be new restaurants, and new attractions that come from this,” he said. “There is such beauty that can come from this. Maybe inside one of our attractions is damaged, and it sucks, but maybe they have a chance to start over. ”

Seeing how Lake Charles connected to the two hurricanes just made the decision easier. “It’s exciting now, to be honest,” he said. “It proves why I choose to be here. Yes, everyone’s lives are in danger right now. But we are still asking each other, to make sure we are well. We care about our friends, even when we are in trouble.”

Something because there are so many obstacles in the future makes Ms. Duncan very dedicated to the area. “If I had left, I would have been somewhere else with all of that,” he said. “But I still maintain my self-respect. It’s a daily challenge, what can I do better? What can I do to make this place better? How can I leave it to the next generation? ”

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