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Boom to bust: Crude oil costing families

1 year 1 month 11 minutes ago February 23, 2016 Feb 23, 2016 Tuesday, February 23 2016 February 23, 2016 7:26 AM in News
Source: WBRZ
By: Natalia Verdina & Hunter Robinson

MORGAN CITY- Going to the gas pump isn't the pain it used to be. Many drivers are loving the cheaper prices, but dropping oil prices are placing a burden on residents in places like Morgan City that rely heavily on the oil and gas industry.

Offshore workers are being laid off, local businesses are losing their clients and the city is facing major budget shortfalls.

A year ago, Merlin Price Jr. was working as a safety engineer on an oil rig in south Texas. Like many in Morgan City, offshore work was all he knew; He'd been doing it for 35 years.

"They called me on the phone and said 2 weeks when you go home; they said you're done," he told News 2's Natalia Verdina.

As oil companies continue to cut back, Price is living with his mother again and learning a new trade: painting.

Offshore workers may be the first ones to get laid off, but in places like Morgan City, the oil and gas industry affects just about everyone. It's a lifeline that's slipping away.

"I have not made a profit off the bar since June," Lori Broussard explains.

She's the owner of a local hot-spot for offshore workers, but has been seeing too many lonely nights. It has her struggling to stay afloat.

A few blocks down the road, Jean Paul Bourg takes his children to the same park he grew up playing in. They live close by and the school they attend isn't far away The oil crisis is threatening to change that.

"The elementary school my daughters go to, there looks like it's got a very strong possibility of being closed down," he says.

Less people led St. Mary Parish to see a 15% drop in sales tax revenue in 2015; one of the school system's main sources of funding.

Unemployment in St. Mary Parish is at 7%, but economists say that number is deceiving since most people don't live there and those who do just leave when they can't find work.

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