Evacuees face losing jobs and income over Ike, but help is out there

Hurricane Ike wiped out more than homes. Thousands of jobs were put on hold indefinitely when the storm blew through. Hundreds of evacuees here in east Texas are now feeling the pinch in their wallets. As KLTV 7's Layron Livingston tells us, some evacuees are doing something about it, with the help and a pick-me-up.

For Megan Prast, Starbucks barrista is more than just a title.

"Barrista in Italian is coffee artist. It's all about the culture and that warm legendary service."

Today, that service became personal for Megan. It's her first day on the job, here in Tyler.

But for months, she served up mochas and lattes in her Houston store. She evacuated last week.

"We still don't have power or water at my apartment. I don't know when I'll go back, or how I'm going to go back, it's probably going to be a while," said Megan.

Fortunately for Megan, starbucks employees can pick up shifts at any company-owned store. But where can thousands of other evacuees turn?

Harold Womble says one place is east Texas workforce solutions.

"We realize that you're not thinking about your place of employment, you're not thinking about what's for tomorrow, you're more worried about what those immediate needs are at home," said Harold.

29 Texas counties have been declared disaster areas. Womble says many of those residents don't even know they may be eligible for disaster-related unemployment benefits.

His office is now helping evacuees find both temporary and permanent jobs. Brian Michel came up from Beaumont.

"I was calling to set up an interview with a job I have experience in and the man told me to be there in the morning at seven thirty," said Brian.

Brian's now thinking about calling east Texas home, but he's not the only one.

"I think we're going to eventually end up moving here. Everyone's been so sweet, so warm," said Megan.

Megan says she'd make coffee in Tyler, any day.

East Texas workforce solutions says representatives are distributing information to evacuee shelters all over east Texas.

You can visit their website by clicking here.

Layron Livingston, reporting. llivingston@kltv.com