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‘We’re trusting the Lord’: Ida evacuees leaving Tallahassee as wait continues for home to be clear

“Our apartment, where we were living, has been deemed uninhabitable,” Candace Shelmire said.
Published: Sep. 6, 2021 at 10:40 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - More than a week after Hurricane Ida, many who evacuated are no better off, including families seeking refuge in the Capital City.

With power still out for many in Louisiana, a return date home remains uncertain.

Two rooms at a Tallahassee Quality Inn were a home away from home for one New Orleans family who didn’t realize their stay would enter a second week.

“Our apartment, where we were living, has been deemed uninhabitable,” Candace Shelmire said.

Reports back home remain bleak for Shelmire and the rest of the nearly dozen extended family members with her; spanning four generations, from great grandkids to the family’s matriarch, a 91-year-old Hurricane Katrina survivor.

“A survivor as far as being in the water. She was rescued from her home. She was 75 back then,” Shelmire explained.

16 years later, a 13-hour journey to Tallahassee proved difficult. The family had enough funds for a few nights before relying on aid from a ministry and FEMA to extend their stay this past weekend.

But, with Labor Day and a home Florida State football game, room rates jumped from $100 to $250.

“That was almost the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Shelmire said.

The hotel’s general manager tells WCTV he feels for the evacuees and would prefer not to charge higher rates, but he was able to secure the rooms during an already sold-out weekend after four fans with reservations were willing to cancel to keep the family there.

Still, the high rates sent the family packing Monday and looking for better days ahead.

“We’re trusting in the Lord, and the Lord has never let us down.”

The family left for Pensacola, slowly making their way back to New Orleans but when they can get home remains anyone’s guess.

The hotel’s GM added after a pandemic-fueled decline in revenue, it’s difficult to allow price concessions on high-demand game day weekends.

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