The Loop: Life After Laura
As we roll into the third quarter of 2020 I’ve never felt so much as I do now that this year has so closely begun to resemble an episode of The Twilight Zone. Although we got to start off with two strong months, we were forced to play pandemic leap frog with operations for the next six. And then there was Laura. Oh, Laura. While I wouldn’t exactly say we “dodged a bullet,” I do know that I have found myself to be immensely grateful for Laura. Now I know you’re thinking that sounds crazy, but hear me out. This catastrophic storm has impacted all of us in a variety of ways. It has been wearisome, testing and inconvenient for all involved. It has thrown wrenches at plans & future expectations of every shape, size, or color. While the damage was unarguably severe, the restoration process has packed the biggest punch. In the first days after the storm, the people that make up this little corner of Louisiana would have had every right to lay down and rest to give themselves time to absorb their own shortcomings and adjust to the road ahead. But instead, they instinctively threw themselves on the back-burners, pulled their boots and tools from the rubble, and went on their way to help a neighbor -any neighbor. To cut a tree, any tree. To tarp a roof, any roof. To feed a family, any family -and then another. And then head home at the end of the day only to begin again in the dark, damp, hot & water deprived conditions of their own homes. Without a full stomach, a good nights’ rest, or even a shower they rise again at the break of dawn if they have any chance of making the 90 mile round-trip to the first gas station that still has gas & ice, before getting in the 6 hour line at the laundry trailer to wash two loads of clothes…for someone else.
This got my attention. As a Houston native and an outsider looking in I have been increasingly impressed by the level of sheer willpower, gritty perseverance & nature to nurture that the lifelong residents of SWLA possess. I couldn’t help but do a little digging on the culture I now find my own children being raised around and what I found was nothing less than the colorful depiction of Cajun-Acadian strength that I had been expecting. During The Expulsion of Acadians in the mid-1700s, many Acadians were invited to settle in LA by the Spanish Gov. Galvez. Unfamiliar with the terrain, they assimilated Creole and Native American influences into their Acadian traditions. The locals here are quite simply fueled by a refusal to quit until the job is done, aggressive compassion, and a devotion to preserving the history and culture of their people. Essentially, even though I have been ‘surrounded’ by the people of SWLA for almost four years now, I am eternally grateful to Laura for helping me really see them. When the weight of the world was thrown at you at 150mph, you braced for impact, regained your composure, and then began to help one another rebuild without hesitation -only this time, familiar with your terrain.
As a club our obvious hope has always been that we are able to stand right back up after the storm and resume normal operations; However, proud optimism only gets a man so far before he’s forced to remove his rose-colored glasses. The Lake Charles Country Club is not quite ready to stand back up just yet. From the Marina, Pier and Pro Shop to the Tennis Courts, Swimming Pool and QB Bar & Grille, Laura left her mark on almost every structure on property. Unfortunately, as I’m sure many of you are probably facing the same issue at home, our club was too weak at the seams against Hurricane Laura’s record-breaking winds. As a result, most of our infrastructures took on trace amounts of water. At first glance the lack of full-fledged flooding makes it appear as if the damages are minimal, but when paired with lack of electricity, extreme heat advisory’s above 102, and a 2-3 week long incubation period we are left with the devastating grim reaper that is, “water damage”. From the windows, to the walls, and up & down the halls the silent tyrant has been staking it’s claim over all that we had initially deemed “minimal.” While we wish it wasn’t the case, the future of the clubhouse and other LCCC buildings & structures, remain variably unclear. We are still awaiting inspection reports & damage consultation and deliberation, as well as word from insurance with their rulings. The LCCC management, staff, Board of Directors, and a few select members as well, have been doing what is necessary since the beginning to help us get to where we need to be. With so much left up in the air, I must regretfully accept and report the simple fact that we do not have an ETA or reopening date for the clubhouse or other amenities, and we most likely won’t know for a little while longer. I hope that you have peace in knowing that your faith is not blindly placed in unable hands, or on deaf ears. I hope recent history has displayed that our club is more than capable of standing back up when the time comes, but trust that it is never a question of if.
What I do know, is that because of the tireless work done by our Laura restoration team and golf course maintenance department led by Chris McCallum, the course is approaching a playable status at an astonishingly quick pace. Chris along with Stuart Kramer, Greg Sonnier, Greg Gilder & the rest of the clean-up crew have withstood the extreme conditions and power outages to dedicate their time and physical efforts towards bringing us closer to pristine playing conditions -one day at a time. I would take to take a moment to sincerely thank these individuals for their incredible work ethic and loyalty. I would also like to thank the membership and staff for their patience as these extraordinary circumstances have been beyond anyone’s control. We have greatly appreciated those that have shared their commendable words during this very difficult and trying time. Additionally, we are glad to report that as of 9/13/2020, The Lake Charles Country Club has power! Although this gives us a reason to celebrate, due to it symbolizing the next step in the progression of our city as a whole, it also allows for a more literal “visual representation” of the damages incurred. All of this being said, we will continue to do our due diligence while assessing our situation and will keep you as updated as possible along the way. Our brick & mortar might be compromised, but our fire has never felt more fuel. Please rest assured that we will not be discouraged, only determined. Our next immediate action is to acquire a temporary building to act as our “Pro Shop” until other accommodations are decided upon. It is our full intention to have the course operable within the month and our team is exploring every avenue in order to expedite its availability. We are also looking into our options regarding a safe location on property for temporary food & beverage services, but more details on that subject will be shared with you as they are determined.
If you have any questions, comments, concerns, or if you need anything personally to help you and your family with the post-hurricane recovery process -please call me at 832-459-0966. You can also reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I myself am currently rotating every couple of days between staying with my parents and my children in Houston, and returning to Lake Charles to work on necessary repairs to my home.
Thank you all for your continued patience & consideration, Godspeed.
Lauren Locke Chesson
Interim General Manager, LCCC
(office) 337.477.5511 ext.2202
Located on the beautiful and historic Prien Lake, Lake Charles Country Club is Southwest Louisiana’s premier private country club.