"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."
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, April 18, 2014:
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”
Education Superintendent John White says a continued push to try to keep Louisiana from using tests associated with the Common Core education standards are creating "a state of chaos" for public school teachers.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to use $210 million in surplus and one-time money to help balance next year's budget received the backing Thursday of the State Bond Commission, support that was needed for the maneuver to work.
State wildlife and fisheries agents have arrested a 39-year-old man accused of stealing crawfish.
An East Feliciana Parish lawmaker has jettisoned his proposal to make it harder for a condemned prisoner to appeal a death sentence.
Senators advanced a proposal Wednesday that would let the governor remove New Orleans-area levee board members for violating what he considers to be public policy, despite concerns it would introduce political meddling into state flood protection.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council on Tuesday will vote on a resolution that if approved would clear the way for a December ballot proposition asking voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax parishwide to help fund the construction of a new terminal at Lafayette Regional Airport.
Just days before the fourth anniversary of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and oil spill, the Coast Guard has moved cleanup of Louisiana's coast to a new phase, allowing BP to end its "active" efforts in the area.
Legislators still must leave their guns at the door of the Louisiana Capitol.
Sen. Fred Mills may have an "R" behind his name, but his actions in the Louisiana Legislature transcend the established boundaries of his party.
The Louisiana House overwhelmingly rejected a repeal of the state's unconstitutional anti-sodomy law Tuesday.
The Louisiana Senate sided with Gov. Bobby Jindal and the oil industry Tuesday, agreeing to void a lawsuit that a south Louisiana flood board filed against more than 90 oil and gas companies for coastal damage.
Acadian rep notifies would-be supporters that an April 25 fundraiser for the embattled U.S. rep won’t go on as planned.
While it isn’t all too unusual for public bodies to have hired security present during meetings, the LPSB’s push to do so is arguably a response to the antics of one board member.
“I’m running. Why would I be raising all this money? Just to have to return it to people?”
With incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu watching from afar, and with a united Democratic Party in her corner, the fight to get the GOP officially behind Congressman Bill Cassidy is gaining just as much momentum as it is hushed controversy.
15th Judicial District Judge Durwood Conque has announced that he will not seek re-election after 27 years on the bench.
The controversial standardized tests are set to be used in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year.
The Louisiana Senate has agreed to prohibit unmanned aircraft from flying over chemical plants, water treatment systems, telecommunications networks and other items considered "critical infrastructure" in Louisiana.
It didn’t take long for KATC TV 3 to jump all over the news of a dead body found in Girard Park, but in its rush to produce headlines, the local TV station got sloppy.
An unholy trinity of civil-society upheavalers whose first names are not Conner, Tanner or Logan are facing charges in Eunice.
Now that lawmakers have shot down efforts to cap annual interest rates for payday loans, supporters for stricter regulations of the storefront lenders are rallying behind another strategy.