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Day After Arrival, Katrina Evacuees Begin Rebuilding Lives

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RALEIGH, N.C. — They left New Orleans and arrived in Raleigh with very little personal information. Now, after their first full day in the capital city, nearly 400 evacuees at the

Wake County Hurricane Disaster Victim Center are trying now to put their lives back together.

Federal, state and local agencies spent Wednesday trying to help individuals re-establish their identities.

The Department of Veteran Affairs is helping disabled veteran John Williams get his medicine. The Social Security Administration cut Williams his monthly check and set him up with a mailbox so he can get checks somewhere other than his New Orleans home.

"I didn't know where I was going to get it," Williams said, fighting back tears. "They called for veterans and they took care of us."

Through the Employment Security Commission, employers are offering jobs and housing for displaced workers.

Louis Roussell, who -- along with his wife -- plans to call the Triangle home, hopes for a transfer with Xerox; his wife is also looking for something new in the area.

"If they can help my wife out, we'd be grateful," Roussell said.

Down the hall, families found clothes at a makeshift mall -- another effort to bring some normalcy and some stability to hurricane victims' lives.

"It's OK," Janet Jones, a French Quarter housekeeper, told her 16-year-old daughter as they were searching for clothes to wear in their size.

"It's nothing like these things until you lose them," said Jones. "You know, when you're so used to having running water, you're so used to having air, you're so used to having cold water. You don't miss those things until you really need them and I just thank God for you guys."

A lot has been established at the relief center in a very short time. The Federal Emergency Management Agency set up phones for victims to file claims. The Red Cross is working to fly evacuees to other states where they may have family with which they can stay. Some workers even helped victims, who lost a loved one in the storm, file for survivor benefits.

Similar efforts were also underway in Charlotte, where more than 800 evacuees are seeking refuge, and Greensboro with 85 and more expected. In all, about 1,700 storm survivors are expected in North Carolina.

As efforts to help rebuild lives of those displaced by Hurricane Katrina continued in Raleigh, rescue operations and relief efforts with North Carolina connections continued. A team of doctors and staff with a

mobile hospital sent from UNC Hospitals

treated more than 250 patients in Waveland, La., a small town between Gulfport and New Orleans.

More soldiers from Fort Bragg were also scheduled to leave for Louisiana to help with hurricane relief. Members of the 618th Engineers battalion at Fort Bragg were scheduled to depart Wednesday in a convoy of trucks and heavy equipment. More than 4,300 personnel, 700 vehicles and 24 aircraft from units under the 18th Airborne Corps are involved in the relief effort around New Orleans. In addition to infantry soldiers, the units include medical personnel, kitchen units, heavy trucks and water purification units.

And at North Carolina State University, students and professors at the university's College of Veterinary Medicine spent the day loading supplies and medicine in an effort to lend a helping hand to some of the hurricane's four-legged victims.


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