"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."
By striking a deal to lessen the blow of health insurance changes on state workers, school employees and retirees, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration lowered the volume of criticism but gave itself and local school boards a new budget headache.
With the airport tax coming up for a parishwide vote in about a week, the Broussard City Council and its mayor have come out in support of the proposal.
Protesters rallied peacefully in several Louisiana cities in the wake of the Missouri grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of Michal Brown.
US cities bidding on Olympics; Guard prevents more Ferguson riots; storm threatens travel and more national and international news for Wednesday, November 26, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
The U.S. rep billed LSU for work allegedly performed on the same days Congress voted on major legislation and held important committee hearings on energy and the ACA.
Abysmally low participation by the public has prompted the council to scuttle the 2014 survey with plans to simplify it and try again next year.
The village now says the ordinance will likely be overturned and authorities will more vigorously enforce existing leash laws.
Bill Cassidy cast an early ballot Tuesday, seeking to draw renewed attention to a race that has fallen off newspaper front pages and away from people's minds as they plan holiday meals and shopping schedules.
Battered all night by Baltimore's relentless pass rush, Drew Brees could feel his protection collapsing and Terrell Suggs getting ahold of him as he urgently unloaded a pass to the right flat toward tight end Jimmy Graham.
After a convincing defeat at the polls on Nov. 4, Earl “Nickey” Picard has decided to let bygones be bygones with his former right-hand man Brian Pope, announcing his support for his former employee’s runoff bid to become Lafayette’s next city marshal.
Saturday the athletic department did everything possible to ensure the 2014 Ragin’ Cajun seniors remembered fondly their last home game. Rain and lightning never arrived but turbulence did in the form of the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Even stranger than the Republican Party’s decision to hold a “unity rally” earlier this month for Congressman Bill Cassidy in a Baton Rouge bar, Huey’s Bar, was the fact that the establishment was named after Louisiana’s most famous Democrat.
Bar Code is not a gay bar.
After failing to pass a medical marijuana bill last year, state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, is telling supporters he will return in 2015 with legislation that focuses on different applications like oils and pills.
Voters, obviously, are not yet tuned into the 2015 ballot, despite the intriguing races it will host.
By now, the story of how longtime LSU coach Dale Brown discovered Shaquille O'Neal has been told many times: Brown happened upon a massive 13-year-old at an army base in Germany, stayed in touch with him and eventually became like a second father.
Fate simply wasn't ready to give the New Orleans Saints a break from longtime nemesis Steve Smith.
Lafayette Police have had a busy day.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration will use $130 million in patchwork financing from a tax amnesty program, insurance settlement, uninsured motorist penalties and other excess funds to close most of the state's midyear budget deficit.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said she disagrees with President Barack Obama's actions on immigration, hoping the latest controversy doesn't worsen her campaign difficulties.
Gay-rights advocates challenging Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban announced Thursday that they have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case before it is heard by a federal appeals court.
Thinking himself the “son of God,” the man charged with the 2013 killing of an officer of the Chitimacha Tribal Police will not stand trial following a ruling Thursday on his mental competency.
Either Saints coach Sean Payton doesn't want to tip Baltimore off as to who'll start in New Orleans' secondary on Monday night, or he really doesn't know yet.
The Ethics Board gives the lame duck Youngsville mayor permission to offer a sweet parting gift to the community he’s presided over for three terms.