In the wake of the North Dakota oil boom many of the oil riggers and incoming job-seekers have been taking up residence in the Williston Wal-Mart parking lot.
The quasi community is a byproduct of the huge population influx into Williston. Men are coming from all over the country to land one of the plentiful and well-paying jobs in the area’s booming oil industry.
For months store managers had been tacitly allowing the oil riggers to stay in the parking lot, but a wave of complaints by female customers have forced them to take action.
Women shoppers and employees have expressed fears about walking through the man-infested parking lot at night.
One female shopper described her experience at the Williston Walmart thusly:
“Walmart is hell, you just don’t want to go there.”
The succinct statement accurately summed up the sentiment among female members of the community, and last Monday the 50 or so riggers living in the parking lot arrived from work to find a yellow eviction notice pinned to their cars and campers.
The eviction notice informed riggers their camping on the parking lot was causing safety, noise, litter, and property problems and would no longer be tolerated. Any vehicle left on the premises after 24 hours would be towed.
A Wal-Mart spokeswoman justified the eviction saying:
“It’s just not appropriate for people to be living in our parking lot. We want to be good neighbors during challenging times, but Walmart needs to provide a safe, clean, and comfortable environment for its customers and employees.”
The eviction leaves the riggers in a precarious position. It wasn’t as though they freely elected to live in the Walmart parking lot because of its many perks, it was symptomatic of a larger problem facing the Williston community; There is literally nowhere these men can live.
Housing in the area has become scarce and apartment complexes, in response to the increased demand, have set rent prices sky high. Some complexes have boosted prices three times higher than they were at the same time last year.
Until the price gouging stops, or more housing becomes available, Williston residents are going to be stuck with a nomadic tribe of oil riggers moving from parking lot to parking lot.
Until Next Time