"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."
We can safely assume incumbent Chief K.P. Gibson isn’t too worried about this challenger.
Nationally, Republicans must gain six seats to win Senate control. The most competitive races, many in states where Obama lost in 2012, remain too close to call.
The Baton Rouge Republican has repeatedly battled a perception within his own party that he perhaps wasn't the best choice to carry the GOP banner.
Even if Jimmy Graham's production dips while the star tight end recovers from a shoulder injury, it looks like Drew Brees won't have much trouble finding other targets.
A former campaign manager for Senate candidate Rob Maness is striking at the Republican contender's tea party support, saying Maness only sought to appeal to conservative organizations because he needed money for his campaign.
Ninety-two percent of public school teachers were rated either effective or highly effective in a report the state issued marking the second year of a new statewide evaluation process.
Corporations spending in state elections; Kenny G and Hong Kong; states resist gay marriage and more national and international news for Thursday, October 23, 2014.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
School board members Mark Babineaux, Hunter Beasley and Tehmi Chassion can vote to fire Cooper — because we all know that’s exactly what they’ll do.
District 2 school board candidate Simon Mahan is hoping to unseat first-term incumbent and former Carencro Mayor Tommy Angelle in the Nov. 4 election.
District Attorney Mike Harson is showing his desperation by falsely attributing quotes to his opponent and blocking journalists from his social media.
The governor is traveling the country laying the groundwork for a possible 2016 presidential campaign, but his approval ratings at home hover well below 50 percent.
State District Judge Bob Downing extended the order and delayed a planned Wednesday hearing about a permanent injunction while negotiations continue between Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and the waste disposal site operator.
New Louisiana higher education commissioner Joseph Rallo will be paid more than his predecessor.
Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris each had four rushing touchdowns, and Louisiana-Lafayette rolled to 419 yards on the ground in a 55-40 victory over Arkansas State on Tuesday night.
Bill and Hillary Clinton are the validators-in-chief for Democrats struggling through a bleak campaign season in states where President Barack Obama is deeply unpopular.
President Barack Obama is turning to black radio listeners to plead for midterm votes, a targeted approach to drum up Democratic support at a time when many candidates don't want him around in person.
"I am extremely disheartened by the political machines that are attempting to hijack my efforts along with others that advocate for children."
Landrieu, who is fighting to keep her seat for a fourth term, said that Ebola is serious and precautions should be taken, but she accused Republicans of using the virus outbreak in West Africa to "create fear" here at home.
Law enforcement agencies are participating in a "Louisiana Heroin Summit," designed to address the recent rise in heroin use and drug-related deaths around the state.
State education officials are preparing to release performance scores for public schools and public school districts.
Saints coach Sean Payton is starting a new week by emphasizing, repeatedly, the many good things he noticed during New Orleans' latest loss.
We will be offering our recommendations on the constitutional amendments tomorrow.
The justices did not comment in leaving in place lower court rulings that dismissed the lawsuits against BP and other companies involved in the worst U.S. offshore oil spill.
White registration is down by 7,700 voters while black registration has shot up by 7,100 voters.