HARVEY, La. -- The
140-room Best Western West Bank here, a city across the Mississippi
River and about five miles from downtown New Orleans, does not have
a single vacancy.
suffered considerable damage when Hurricane Katrina punched its way
through the city and other parts of Louisiana, Alabama and
Mississippi, the hotel is nevertheless open and is home to 435 Red
Cross and relief workers.
The hotels owner,
Dawn Boteler, was among the first to return to the devastated area.
The current staff -- the Red Cross guests -- make more than 17,000
meals a day. And each morning at 3:30 Boteler starts brewing 15
gallons of coffee, before the first workers leave the hotel at 4:30
He even had [actor]
Steven Seagal there the other night, said Charlie Helm, Best
Westerns secretary/treasurer. Boteler said he was a super guy for
coming down and trying to get everyone cheered up from whats been
Helm has been
working to keep in contact with the properties in an effort to
assess how they are recovering and the possibility of their return
to full operation.
But it has been
Best Western has
approximately 38 hotels in the region. As of last week the company
still had not established contact with three properties, and they
estimated that at least three hotels are considered total
around to see the properties remains problematic due to the
flooding, roadblocks and other debris.
And last week the
threat of another powerful hurricane -- Rita -- was keeping New
Orleans hoteliers and their corporate officers on edge.
La Quinta has eight
hotels in the New Orleans area. Two of the properties still have
water in them -- the water had dropped from about eight feet to two
feet -- and four have become shelters for relief workers, a
spokeswoman said. Another two, she said, were still being
Until the water
recedes we cant get in there to assess the damage, she
said that it is possible that the two hotels that suffered water
damage could be, at some time, repaired and reopened. But as you
can imagine, construction crews are hard to find, she said, given
the fact that they are needed elsewhere to help restore the
And, she added last
week: Now with ... Hurricane Rita, we dont know what to
chains are working to locate employees and to reopen properties.
Most are housing volunteers, contractors and other relief
Inside the Quarter,
hotels like the Royal Sonesta and the Sonesta Chateau sustained
minimal damage. The Royal Sonesta on Bourbon Street was open
throughout the hurricane with a generator, and now it has running
water and air conditioning. And it doesnt lack for guests: Relief
workers, CNN crews, the FBI and the citys 911 emergency desk have
all taken up residence.
Once the Chateau
Sonesta gets its generator -- its supposed to be delivered any
minute said spokeswoman Deborah Roker -- it will house Federal
Emergency Management Agency personnel.
reporters Michael Milligan or Rebecca Tobin, send e-mail to [email protected] or [email protected].
details on this article, see Rebirth Louisiana gets thumbs up from travel