November 7, 2005
58, Number 10
November 7 , 2005
Katrina evacuees find new home at Emory
By eric Rangus
Upon meeting one another for the first time, two of Emory’s newest Emory employees, Antoinette Heron and Enid Broyard, asked about home.
Where are you from? Heron is from Jefferson Parish, Broyard is from New Orleans proper. Both of their homes are salvageable, but dealing with the insurance companies has been a nightmare.
What did you used to do? Heron worked for the Louisiana State University School of Public Health doing tumor registry. Broyard was a nurse practitioner for a school in the lower Ninth Ward. It was built a year after Hurricane Betsy flooded the district. She hasn’t seen what it looks like in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
How did you get here?
Heron still had some connections from when she lived in Atlanta in the late 1990s. Broyard’s husband, who works for BellSouth, got a transfer. They came to Atlanta after evacuating first to Houston. Her husband didn’t expect to be gone long; he took his golf clubs. Broyard’s son, who was supposed to start school at Tulane, is now taking classes at Emory. Her daughter has found a job with the DeKalb County School System.
When Brenda Bossett joined them, she was asked where she worked back home. Xavier University, she said. Broyard mentioned that her brother-in-law worked there and dropped his name. Bossett took a step back.
“He was my boss,” she said, her voice dripping with equal parts excitement and amusement, all wrapped in a syrupy accent that was unmistakably New Orleans.
“New Orleans is like that; my neighbors had known my mother when she was a little girl,” said Heron, a native of Louisiana, who moved to New Orleans in 2000 to be closer to her family. She had been living in Atlanta prior to that, and had actually worked at Emory previously. So when she evacuated her New Orleans-area home before Katrina hit land, Atlanta was the logical place to go. She expected to stay a week. Now she—just like her new friends Bossett and Broyard—is planning to stay for good.
They have begun to rebuild thier lives in a new place after one of the worst natural disasters to ever hit this country took away their city and, in Bossett’s case, destroyed her home, leaving her only with what she could carry. All three, as well as several others who had to evacuate New Orleans and leave behind jobs (and often entire lives), have found new employment at Emory.
Heron, a tumor registrar with the School of Medicine, could have moved to Baton Rouge, where her LSU office relocated. It had been on Canal Street in the heart of New Orleans. But why? Her job required her to be on the road. Where there were hospitals open—and there weren’t too many of those—getting to them was a nightmare. The drive to Katrina-devastated Slidell, northeast of New Orleans, would take more than three hours from Baton Rouge. Besides, the Louisiana state capitol is bursting at the seams with displaced New Orleans residents. While Heron’s new position is similar to her previous one with LSU, at Emory Heron will be based at just one hospital: Crawford Long.
Broyard is working as a nurse practitioner at a school in East Atlanta; Bossett is a secretary in the School of Law. They mark what could be the beginning of an increasing number of new employees coming to plant new roots.
“We had to fight back tears talking to some of the people,” said Emory recruiting specialist Denese Jester. Shortly after Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, Employment Services had an all-hands meeting in preparation for an influx of hurricane evacuees. Jester attended two job fairs, one at Georgia World Congress Center and another at the Sheraton Hotel.
Jester said the hiring process for evacuees was not really any different than that for other prospective employees, but Human Resources staff were prepared to assist people who didn’t have documentation.
“I got hired on the spot; I didn’t know what to make of it,” Bossett, who had experience in banking and education in addition to her most recent pharmacology administrative position at Xavier. “This was the fastest job I ever got.”
To date, six Katrina evacuees have been hired for a variety of positions, ranging from the schools of law and medicine to Campus Services. More hires may be coming.
“I want to thank Catherine Smith Jones,” said Heron of her former supervisor, a nurse manager with Emory Healthcare, whom she contacted upon returning to Atlanta. Jones helped open the door to bring Heron back.
“I also want to thank all the staff and doctors in 11E and 7G,” she continued. The staff on those Emory Hospital floors took up collections of clothing, food and other items to help her and her family get back on their feet. So numerous were those donations that Heron actually has too much.
She is donating the extras to help relief efforts for Hurricane Wilma.