Across the country, many companies are moving quickly to help their employees. Wal-Mart has pledged jobs at other stores for out-of-work employees, and McDonald's is promising to continue paying displaced workers. Locally, convenience store conglomerate Shop Rite is posting "Help Wanted" signs at more than 60 Shop Rite and Tobacco Plus stores throughout the state, and Sonic is transferring workers from its 10 New Orleans area stores, as well as hiring other franchisees' employees.
"Anyone who has relocated or is displaced, we're taking them in, anywhere they want to go," says Gary Wilkerson, vice president of Kergan Brothers, which owns 40 Sonic stores throughout south Louisiana.
Even with their lives in upheaval, most of Lafayette's evacuees are ready to get to work, says Henry Florsheim, vice president of the Lafayette Economic Development Authority. "I went to the Cajundome to pass out job fair flyers, and as I was putting them up a lot of people were walking up asking for them," he says. "It'll give them some money so they can get out of the shelter. We want to get people working as soon as possible."
Thirty-one-year-old Marguerite Christoval, who fled New Orleans' West Bank with a large entourage of family members, wants to work partly to help escape the stress of the situation. The generosity of a local family is providing her and her children with temporary housing, and the former customer service specialist with the City of New Orleans' traffic court wants an income so that she can find permanent housing in Lafayette. "I just want my own money. I am ready to get back to work to take my mind off of what's going on around me," says Christoval, whose husband is a New Orleans police officer still working in the city.
Last week, Lafayette Consolidated Government was awarded National Emergency Grant funds to provide federal assistance for 470 temporary public service jobs [in non-profit and government sectors] for evacuees like Christoval. For up to 12 weeks, participants will be paid $9 an hour and can work 40-hour weeks. Lafayette Workforce Investment Board Executive Administrator Glenn Dugas urges all non-profits and government agencies to contact his office with available positions, as monies from any unfilled positions will be returned to the federal government. (For more information, call the LCG's Workforce Investment Act office at (337) 291-7034.)
Florsheim's Cajundome flyer advertised an "Evacuee Job Fair" held Monday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. in conjunction with UL Lafayette, LCG and the State Department of Labor. Companies like The Lemoine Co., Halliburton and Northwestern Mutual participated, offering jobs ranging from unskilled laborers to engineers, financial advisers and construction managers. The fair came on the heels of last Friday's Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce seminar, which provided resources for businesses or individuals seeking office space, employment and information on relocating their businesses to Lafayette. (Those who missed the seminar can contact Patricia Parks at the chamber office at 233-2705; additional seminars will be held every Friday until further notice.) Additionally, any companies with openings can send a description of the job to the "virtual LEDA job fair" at www.lafayette.org/jobs. LEDA's Florsheim says more job fairs like the one held Monday at Cajun Field may be forthcoming.
Assistance is also coming from the financial services community. Financial adviser DeAnne Henke is donating her time to help evacuees with their investing and financial needs so they can access money to get back on their feet. She's also devoted her Web site, www.moneylifelines.com, as a resource for what area banks are offering, which car finance companies are waiving payments and for how long and where to seek other financial help, like FEMA funding.
Florsheim says the placement of employees has been quick. By Thursday of last week, Lafayette General Medical Center had hired 35 nurses and three pharmacists, all evacuees, and the number is growing, says Director of Human Resources Diane Broussard. The hospital has various openings but is fast-tracking the hiring of nurses, already in short supply before the hurricane. For a list of opportunities, visit the hospital's job center at www.lafayettegeneral.com.
"We're currently treating 65-70 New Orleans area inpatients," says Donna Landry, LGMC's chief operating officer. "To put it in perspective," says Landry, "our inpatient daily census of 100-120 pre-Katrina has held at anywhere from 210-270-plus since Katrina."
So far the Democratic agenda includes proposals to expand Medicaid; increase the minimum wage; offer equal pay to women; heighten regulations on predatory lending practices, like payday loans; and add more transparency in the governor’s office.
Hot-button education issues ranging from Common Core to charter schools have some lawmakers pushing to scrap the appointing process and go back to electing the state's super.
Police say the handcuffed man fatally shot himself in the back, but his family isn't buying the story.
Gov. Bobby Jindal offered a budget proposal that suggests new education and health care spending, pay raises for state workers and an incentive fund to encourage colleges to enhance their science, engineering and technology training.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday, March 11, 2014:
Hopefully he’ll be better prepared today than he was in that Feb. 20 deposition.
They came by the hundreds, arriving from all regions of the state to gather on the steps of our Capitol in protest of the Legislature’s long tradition of giving industry the go-ahead to abuse our air, our water and our coastline, all in the name of good economics.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s recent rhetoric against President Barack Obama has failed to boost his standing among the conservative base.
Louisiana's annual legislative session begins.
The state has hired marksmen to shoot feral hogs from helicopters at two wildlife management areas in south Louisiana.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.