Local News

Katrina Evacuee Finds New Life in Raleigh

Posted September 2, 2007
Updated September 3, 2007

This past week marked two years since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast. The storm flooded 80 percent of New Orleans; more than 1,600 people were killed in Mississippi and Louisiana.

Thousands of displaced residents chose not to rebuild after the storm. Some moved to Raleigh in search of a new life. Geraldine Gilbert was living in New Orleans before the Category 3 storm hit.

The Sunday before Hurricane Katrina arrived; she and her children evacuated their home and drove to Georgia. Gilbert's parents stayed behind in New Orleans and so did her 24-year-old daughter.

"Even though we were worried about the city, we were also worried about our family," said Gilbert.

Gilbert and her three younger children eventually moved to Raleigh, where she took a job in a medical office.

"I'm still trying to recover financially and emotionally," said Gilbert. "My belief in God, that has carried me through most of it all."

Gilbert has not been back to New Orleans but her relatives have. They brought back a bag of photos from her home. The photos were not damaged by water or mold because they were on the top shelf of a second floor closet. Gilbert said it is too painful to look at the photos.

"Brings back too many memories," said Gilbert.

Gilbert said she is creating memories and taking new photos of her life as a Raleigh resident.

"I felt like I was existing for awhile, now I'm starting to feel like I'm living again," said Gilbert.

Gilbert has plans to visit her relatives in New Orleans next month. It will be her first time back in two years. She said she hopes seeing what is left of her former home will give her some closure.


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  • Mrs. Fabulous Sep 4, 2007

    Many of you have no clue as to how starting over is very difficult for alot of families that left NOLA. I had a co-worker who was here from NOLA, and her mental state causes her to not hold a job. Mentally she is still damaged from what she seen. She still had nightmares and barely can sleep. She had sought counselors and everything. So for most of you to make comments that everyone should take note, be sure to know the facts and understand why some people may be having a hard time. Not everyone can do as well as this lady in this story. I applaud her and pray that she is continully blessed. But pray for those that are still suffering from tramatic disorders and having a hard time. Be blessed.

  • NCTeacher Sep 3, 2007

    Best of luck to Ms. Gilbert and her family!

  • Z Man Sep 3, 2007

    Good for Ms. Gilbert and welcome to Raleigh! By taking a job and not waiting for someone else to fix her life, she deserves all the help we can provide!

  • weasleyes Sep 3, 2007

    I take my hat off to this good lady and her family. God Bless you all!

  • shine Sep 3, 2007

    "Adapt and Overcome" that is what she did........ The ones sitting on the curb in NOLA blaming everyone but themselves should take the same attitude. Two years and a bunch are still sitting and crying (mainly that good for nothing Mayor. What Gravy train is he waiting on that he has not cashed in? There are tooo many opportunities in this world to sit on your haunches and wait for the "good music wagon" to come by.

    Good story and good luck to her and her family.

  • PikeMom Sep 3, 2007

    She merely did what she was "suppose" to do.Others should take heed.

  • gopanthers Sep 3, 2007

    Just goes to show you with a little determination and ignoring fear of change can be a good thing. I'm so proud of this lady and others like her.

  • Nancy Sep 3, 2007

    Over the two years I've ready many stories of people who have started over in various places around the country. Most of them never realized how much better life could be outside of NOLA. One family in particular, moved to Colorado, the children were thrilled with their nice school, the parents found jobs and they were very happy in their new home.

    Sadly, NOLA schools were already turned over to a NY management firm because they were losing $160,000 a month because while enrollment kept going down, not a single employee was cut - all prior to Katrina.

    I'm happy for this woman, she'll find that starting over fresh here is going to be the best decision for herself and her children. Good for her, she's already so much further ahead for having moved on!

  • Maysmom Sep 2, 2007

    Have to respect this Lady...she's one tough cookie!

  • jetstream Sep 2, 2007

    I agree l-rae17. I have the utmost respect for her. She didn't take the pitty train.

    Geraldine, life will probably get tougher for you before it will get better. Keep your faith and it will get better. Best of luck to you.