Example: [Collected via e-mail, 2006]
"I ain't got no job. I've been looking & looking. Give me some money for . . . . . ahh . . . food. Yeah, that's it . . . . food."
This past weekend FEMA and the City of Austin, along with the Texas Workforce Commission setup a job training/hiring/interview/job fair for all the Katrina FEMA evacuees in the Austin area to be held at the ACC campus on Webberville Road in East Austin. Several of the evacuees said they had no transportation to get from the apartment complexes, private homes, hotels, motels, and inns where they are living.
So the city of Austin/FEMA/TWC set up transportation for each of them to ensure they would be able to partake of the benefit of job searching. The transportation consisted of nine buses and vans, to run from four locations in Round Rock, and five locations in Austin, in continuing shuttles back and forth to the campus to ensure that the hundreds of people looking for jobs would be transported in comfort. The vehicles were brought to their residences; drivers knocked on the doors; and every effort was made.
At the end of the day, the nine vans and buses transported a total of one person. Not one person per
The bill to FEMA was $7800.
Origins: The above-quoted message about Hurricane Katrina evacuees in Austin, Texas, spurning the opportunity to use free, city-provided transportation to a local job fair (after supposedly having stated that a lack of transportation was preventing them from seeking gainful employment) began showing up in our inbox in
One of the employers told the bus driver that she had six jobs available, starting at $11.50/hour, but that none of the refugees would apply. In addition to the hourly wage, they offered to pick up the employee, take them to work, and return them after the workday. Still no takers. Another bus driver who went to another shelter had the same experience ... not a single one of the deadbeats would even take the bus to the job fair to apply for the jobs.
Federal support and welfare must be too good a deal to pass up!
In reference to the more recent version of the rumor that places the story in Austin, the Austin American-Statesman noted that the story did have some truth to it, although not necessarily for the reasons implied in the above-quoted
But the punch line of the heavily circulated
Officials could not verify if drivers knocked on doors, but they did say
City officials said publicity about the free rides was limited because they didn't get confirmation that FEMA would reimburse the cost until four or five days before the event. Going through the city's procurement process took time, which meant the shuttles weren't secured until day before.
Rebecca Giello, a City of Austin spokeswoman, said, "I wouldn't consider the (shuttles) a huge success."
An earlier job fair was held in Austin on
Likewise, a job fair held in Houston at the George R. Brown Convention Center on
Last updated: 4 April 2006
Crowe, Robert. "Fair Helps Evacuees' Job Hunt." The Houston Chronicle. 7 October 2005 (p. B1). Heinauer, Laura. "Critical E-Mail on Evacuee Job Fair Mostly Debunked." The Austin American-Statesman. 31 March 2006. Zehr, Dan. "Evacuees Lining Up to Find Work in Austin." Austin American-Statesman. 13 September 2005 (p. C1).