Two layoffs. A new job with a pay cut. And then storms hit the pier.


Deborah Dillard was laid off as a sales director at a golf course in Galveston, Texas, in March, after the pandemic hit and the resort shut down.

Ms. Dillard, 50, started receiving $400 a week in state unemployment benefits in April, along with a $600 federal supplement, which tided her over until the golf course called her back to work in May.

She was hesitant to return because she has lupus — a disease that suppresses her immune system — and because she was offered fewer hours than she worked before. But she knew that if she refused she would lose her unemployment benefits, so she agreed. Then, in mid-July, after two months of being unable to book golf tournaments at the resort because of social-distancing requirements, the company laid her off again.

In mid-August, she found a job as the marketing director on a fishing pier, which pays her 25 percent less than her previous role and does not give her health insurance. “At least I’m working,” she said.

Her husband was laid off as a truck-driving instructor in mid-April. With the loss of his income and her cut in pay, it has been challenging to cover their monthly bills, including $1,100 in rent, $700 in car payments, $300 for car insurance, and $500 for utilities. Ms. Dillard also has $2,000 in outstanding medical bills.

At the end of August, Ms. Dillard received $1,800 from Lost Wages Assistance, a short-term federal supplement. “It didn’t help much because it was so short,” she said. “I used it up right away.”

Hurricane Sally struck in September, then Tropical Storm Beta, and the storms’ combined force caused the fishing pier where she works to break off. The pier was closed because of the damage. “It was really alarming because my first thought was, ‘Oh, no, am I going to lose my job again?’” she said.

To her relief, Ms. Dillard’s employer has promised to keep her on the payroll while the pier is repaired.



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