Thursday, September 01, 2005

Refugee Impact on Lafayette

It seems that there is a lot of good in the world to help balance out all the bad, but it is certainly sad and scary to hear about what a disaster can lead people to do.

I got several emails this afternoon concerning civil unrest in both Baton Rouge and Lafayette due to the influx of refugees on the cities. People in the cities are obviously trying to do all that they can to help out the displaced, but there always seem to be some who feel that they must take when they feel that not enough is being offered.

The first is excerpts from an email in a lengthy chain of forwards that originated from one of my mother's former co-workers in Lafayette.

Things are getting worse here. These has been rioting at the Centraplex in [Baton Rouge]. The SWAT team has been called in. The government offices in BR are closed until Tuesday. Bill is considering closing the BR office b/c there is an impending gasoline shortage.

Last night there were robberies at the Wal-mart on the Northside and the RaceTrac gas station.
Although things sound like they could get out of control in Baton Rouge, the Daily Advertiser in Lafayette is reporting that the reports are only rumors and false reports. Apparently the rumors were enough to prompt LSU Chancellor Sean O'Keefe to issue a statement by email to all LSU students about safety on campus and in the city.

The second and more personal excerpt is from an email that my brother sent this afternoon in response to my parents. My parents who live in Houston, can't get through to him in Lafayette because the telephone system is jammed with people trying to call in to the state. Here is what he had to say about crime and the influx of people into Lafayette.

So far I haven't heard of any robberies but it seems very likely. As you can imagine the people that fill the Cajundome don't know anyone outside of their small worlds in New Orleans. At lunch time they and others pack all the fast food restaurants near [my office]. These are the people that concern me. They don't have anything. They have nothing to lose. I had trouble finding a gas station today that wasn't packed with lines of cars, or out of gas, or where regular was less than $2.89. I filled up at a Chevron near work for $2.65/gallon reg. Traffic is truly horrible. Before, we thought it was bad...We were wrong. We had it quite good actually. The quantity of drivers doesn't bother me as much as the poor quality of drivers. Don't get me wrong, I certainly sympathize with these unfortunate people but tension is rising quite quickly. With increased people, traffic and gas prices and a decrease in places for people to go, the territorial nature of people will cause an inevitable rise in hostilities likely leading to more crime simply out of people's frustrations with each other.
Pretty powerful stuff -- powerful and widespread enough for many residents of Acadiana to arm themselves with visits to gun shops and sporting goods stores. My brother went on to say that if it becomes too intense in Lafayette, he and his girlfriend will leave town and head for Houston and stay with my parents for a while. Although based on the number of people that are being shipped into Texas, it might be that much worse in Houston.

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