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New Orleans Remains Home For Katrina Evacuees In Triangle

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WAKE FOREST, N.C. — A year after they fled their New Orleans home in the face of Hurricane Katrina, the Roussell family said they have settled into a new life in Wake Forest, but they still don't consider the Triangle home.

"We are very homesick," Gina Roussell said. "We believe in time, in time, things will get better."

Right before Katrina, the family evacuated their home five minutes from the French Quarter. They ended up at an aunt's house in Wake Forest with 20 other evacuees.

A year later, the family has moved into their own house, the children are settled into local schools, and Gina and her husband, Louis, have good jobs. But they never imagined not returning to New Orleans, and they long for their old life.

"Part of (our life now) is normal," Louis Roussell said.

"But it's not home," his wife quickly added. "We do have nice neighbors and we do have nice co-workers, but that's what they are -- neighbors and co-workers. They aren't family, and that's what New Orleans was about."

The Roussells said they are very grateful for all the support and help they've gotten from Triangle residents, and they plan to stay in the area -- even if their hearts never left New Orleans.

Gina Roussell's mother and grandmother are also living in Wake Forest, but plan to return to Louisiana. Her mother is waiting on insurance money to repair her home. Her grandmother just needs electricity to be hooked up at her house.

The family said the anniversary of Katrina and the constant coverage on television and in newspapers was hard to take.

"It's almost like I'm reliving it. That's the only problem. Right now, I'm OK, and I tell myself I have to just focus on my children and make them feel comfortable," Louis Roussell said. "I think in about a week, when all this dies down, I'll be alright."

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