Storm Related Jobless Claims Rise

The number of jobless claims due to Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma has risen.

Nanette Altuna was a dental technician for more than 18 years.

“For the first time in my life, I feel hopeless,” Altuna says.

Now a job seeker in Live Oak, Hurricane Wilma forced her to leave her now condemned home and dream job in West Palm Beach.

"It's very hard. People don't realize when you have three kids and you used to go to work everyday. I loved my job with a passion. It was hard for me to call and tell them I couldn't go back because I don't have a vehicle. Not only that, I didn't have a home,” adds Altuna.

The most recent available numbers from the U.S. Labor Department show the number of Americans who lost jobs due to Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma rose by 19,000, putting the total at more than 560,000.

"It's been very difficult to find jobs, especially for people with degrees and already have skills. To get them back into their skill has been difficult,” says Shanna Travis, a counselor at Meridian Behavioral Healthcare.

Travis has been trying to help Nanette and other evacuees find jobs in the area, hoping to curve the number of storm-related jobless claims.

The total jobless claims throughout the country dropped by 25,000, the lowest level since mid-April.