"We're talking about numbers that nobody had planned for in their wildest dreams," says Bill BacquÃ©, chief executive officer of Van Eaton & Romero. "Our switchboard has just been inundated with people calling to the point where we can't handle it." Van Eaton & Romero doesn't handle rental properties but tries to match callers up with other local property managers.
Last week, BacquÃ© was working with other members of both the Lafayette and Louisiana Board of Realtors to set up a Web site, www.hurricanehomes.net, which they hoped to have up this week, to connect tenants with landlords.
A national site, www.hurricanehomes.org, has also been set up to match refugees with people willing to open up their homes free of charge. As of last week, the site listed more than 58,000 available beds.
Chuck Hebert, manager of Presteaux Management and Old South Realty, which handles more than 1,500 rental properties throughout Acadiana, says he has 40 available rentals on average, but that by midday Thursday, everything was occupied. Dozens are already on a waiting list.
"We're tying to accommodate as much as we can," Hebert says, "but it's just heartbreaking story after heartbreaking story. We just have no place to put them. It's just completely saturated." Many displaced families and businesses were moving beyond renting and beginning to buy properties around town ' a move that could spark a surge in property values.
"As the supply starts to diminish and the demand starts to go up, that's economics 101 that the price will go up," he says.
BacquÃ© wonders how the local market would handle such demand. As of Sept. 2, BacquÃ© says 787 homes were listed on the market in Lafayette Parish with a median price of $194,500. He also estimates another 330 homes could be for sale by owners, for a total of 1,100 homes for sale.
Hebert has already heard of instances where rental prices have gone up and wouldn't be surprised to see that carry into the buyers' market.
At least two businesses headquartered in New Orleans have announced they are moving to Lafayette offices for now. Law firm Liskow & Lewis is also relocating the bulk of its New Orleans staff to Lafayette. The firm signed a one-year lease last week to occupy a floor and a half in the FNB Towers on Jefferson Street. Superior Energy Services is also relocating employees to its Broussard office.
The big question is what will be done to accommodate the growing number of displaced indigents. Most of the residents who lost homes in the hurricane are living paycheck to paycheck.
"Many of these people don't have jobs to go back to," BacquÃ© says. "I don't think we've got any economic model that we can pull off the shelf and look at and say, 'This is what we're going to have to do to solve this problem.' It is unprecedented."
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.