September 12, 2005
Where will they go from here?

I'm not seeing nearly as many alerts for volunteers and/or donations to Katrina victims these days. That's good, in the sense that much of the immediate crisis of ensuring everybody is alive, fed, and healthy has been dealt with, but worrisome because the need goes much beyond the immediate future. Let's all keep up the good work.

Today's Chron talks about the decision many evacuees will be making: whether to stay in Houston or move back to Louisiana. For those who stay, will there be enough jobs for all of them?

"Houston can absorb a good portion," said Barton Smith, director of the Institute for Regional Forecasting at the University of Houston. "But at the rate we were growing, we can't absorb this added labor force overnight."

Smith estimates 10,000 to 20,000 of the evacuees are looking for jobs and will make Houston their home for a year or two.

But according to the Texas Workforce Commission, the Houston area created only 23,000 new jobs in the past 12 months, he said. So far, the agency has received 7,200 inquiries from employers looking to hire evacuees.

Even if the state agency underestimated Houston's year-over-year job gains and it is really closer to 40,000, it still won't be easy for the city to find spots for so many new job seekers, Smith said.

And the skills brought by the new residents may not be the ones employers are looking for.

Many of the displaced worked in retail or for small businesses that offered personal services two sectors that aren't growing in Houston, Smith said.

And unfortunately, as Tom notes, those types of job will likely be the slowest to return to New Orleans because they don't have the kind of capital to withstand the destruction that Katrina wrought on them. Even with federal aid, it's going to be a long haul for a lot of people.

On the plus side, more and more people are being moved out of the temporary shelters into more permanent residences.

There were 2,000 fewer evacuees at the George R. Brown Convention Center and Reliant Park on Sunday than the day before. Sunday night the total was 5,263 down from 11,400 Sept. 6.

By today, the headcount at the megashelters had dropped to 4,680.

As I understand it, the GRB's mission will most likely be completed by this weekend. That's really amazing, isn't it?

Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 12, 2005 to Hurricane Katrina | TrackBack

Meanwhile in breaking news, Michael Brown is resigning as head of FEMA. More information is available at:

Also, I was watching the news early this morning (5 AM) and there was a story that the Red Cross is looking for 40,000 volunteers to go to the Gulf Coast. The strange thing is that I can't find anything to verify the story on their website or anywhere else.

Posted by: William Hughes on September 12, 2005 2:39 PM

Of course, immediately after I mentioned that I couldn't verify the story regarding the need for 40,000 volunteers I was able to find numerous stories by typing "Red Cross Volunteers" in Yahoo!. The News Results section is full of stories related to this.

Posted by: William Hughes on September 12, 2005 2:45 PM

I met a family from Louisiana yesterday. They're staying in the townhouses in our subdivision. As we walked up the street (I was going home, they were heading to the bus stop to go to the Galleria), I talked with one of them, a girl about 14. She was so matter-of-fact about having been separated from her little sister for over a week and then being here, I couldn't help but feel more sad about the whole thing. I wanted to do something, but didn't know what, so I just wished them a good time at the mall.

Posted by: Sue on September 13, 2005 7:49 AM

I'm gathering donations of knit or crochet items to pass on to the victims. If you want to help spread the word, let me know - I'll get you all the details.

Posted by: Christine on September 14, 2005 12:36 AM