A Texas-Sized Job Fair for Katrina Evacuees Catherine Cuellar of member station KERA reports on a Texas-sized job fair in Dallas where hundreds of employers are looking to hire newly unemployed evacuees left homeless and jobless by Hurricane Katrina.

A Texas-Sized Job Fair for Katrina Evacuees

A Texas-Sized Job Fair for Katrina Evacuees

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Catherine Cuellar of member station KERA reports on a Texas-sized job fair in Dallas where hundreds of employers are looking to hire newly unemployed evacuees left homeless and jobless by Hurricane Katrina.


This is DAY TO DAY from NPR News. I'm Madeleine Brand.

In Dallas-Ft. Worth, more than 20,000 hurricane survivors have registered with the Red Cross. Since they can't go home and don't want to live in shelters, many are looking for work. Government agencies are slowly chipping away at the number of newly unemployed. At the Dallas Convention Center, 200 employers gathered yesterday for a Texas-sized job fair. From member station KERA, Catherine Cuellar reports.


The Dallas Convention Center occupies an entire block next to City Hall. Currently it's being used as a Red Cross emergency shelter and FEMA Disaster Recovery Center. Yesterday those agencies were joined by room after room of booths filled with recruiters from Dallas companies, hospitals and schools, like Jeff Strese of Southern Methodist University.

Mr. JEFF STRESE (Southern Methodist University): What was the name of the company that you were with?

Mr. DAVID STERLING (Louisiana Evacuee): The last one was K Time RVs(ph). It's a motor home company.


Mr. STERLING: We serviced RVs. I mean, we did--it's like, I tell people, I say, `Well, in my years of experience, it's a house on wheels.'

CUELLAR: David Sterling used public transportation to get to the job fair. He arrived from New Orleans last week with his two sons and two grandsons.

Mr. STERLING: I put them in school as of yesterday. I signed them up for school. I think I'm going to stay.

CUELLAR: Sterling hopes he'll hear from SMU about a job. In the meantime, he's going to pursue all leads.

For those relocating permanently, career opportunities range from teaching and nursing to maintenance and retail. Others who hope to return and rebuild soon also have options.

Sandy Olsen is a recruiter for the Dallas-based 7-Eleven convenience store chain.

Ms. SANDY OLSEN (7-Eleven): Because we have over 230 stores in Dallas-Ft. Worth, we always have openings. To give you an exact number is difficult, but there will be openings. And if I don't have one today, I usually have one tomorrow.

CUELLAR: The job fair was organized by WorkSource for Dallas County, the local arm of the Texas Workforce Commission. The commission has been holding fairs all over the state. WorkSource also opened an employment center in the emergency shelter earlier this week which has been counseling 200 job seekers an hour, according to president Laurie Larrea.

Ms. LAURIE LARREA (President, WorkSource for Dallas County): We can't go into this and say, oh, of course we can cover everyone's need. We don't have that many jobs; we don't have that much opportunity. But we can begin, as we normally do our daily work, one person, one job at a time. We're also finding that jobs are not necessarily going to come from our pocket areas but throughout the state of Texas and throughout the country.

CUELLAR: But moving again is difficult for those who have lost their cars and are eager to put down roots. Reginald Dove has traveled from Louisiana along with his parents, brother and stepson. They're staying with another family in a Dallas suburb.

Mr. REGINALD DOVE (Louisiana Evacuee): Today I'm looking for something in sales. My forte is sales. I've done sales all my life in New Orleans, whether it meant doorman, car salesman, waiter. So my sales abilities are going to help me get a job.

CUELLAR: Dove's evacuee status is evident only because he's wearing a bright plastic wristband which grants him access to services in the emergency shelter. He's ready to lose the bracelet and call Dallas home. For NPR News, I'm Catherine Cuellar.

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