A Lafayette Utilities System water tower and power lines are pictured Monday, July 16, 2018, in Lafayette, La. 

Around 5,000 business and residential customers of Lafayette Utilities System are so far behind on their payments that, under normal circumstances, their service would be disconnected.

In March, the week before the start of the governor's stay-at-home order to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, 300 LUS customers were in line to be disconnected, interim LUS Director Lowell Duhon said Friday at a press conference. Now there are 5,000.

That's an increase of about 4,700 or 1,567% in two months.

Thousands of Lafayette Parish residents lost their jobs because the governor ordered businesses closed. That came on top of a downward turn in the oil and gas industry which cost additional jobs. Since the week of March 21, Mayor-President Josh Guillory said, 30,176 initial unemployment claims were filed in the parish.

LUS employees will work with customers who are behind on their payments, Guillory said. Customers may set up payment plans to catch up over 4-6 months, he said, without having to pay penalties or late fees.

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