Local News

Katrina Survivors In The Triangle Continue To Get Life Back On Track

Posted March 13, 2006 6:28 a.m. EST

— Waldeen Mitchell is a survivor.

Nearly eight months ago, she, along with 800 other Hurricane Katrina survivors, ended up in the Triangle -- some who would later return to the Gulf Coast region to rebuild their lives, and others who would start their lives over in a new part of the country.

Now, Mitchell is a case manager who helps other Katrina victims, like Chris and Tyeast Bank, still trying to get life back on track.

"I always love working with people. It gives me an opportunity to give support and get support," Mitchell says.

But the opportunities haven't come easily for everyone.

WRAL met the Banks when they first arrived in the Triangle last September. Since then, they moved from a relative's home in Wake Forest to their own apartment in Raleigh; their children are enrolled in school -- but months after the hurricane, they are still looking for work.

Tyeast had a job briefly, but she says it didn't work out.

"It's a battle every day," says Tyeast Banks. "It has been an emotional roller-coaster ride for me."

The Banks believe looking for employment has been hard for them because they've been concentrating more on picking up the pieces and tying up loose ends in New Orleans, where they've been five times since Christmas.

"I think we need to stay focused, and hopefully we don't need to go back for a long time," says Chris Banks. "This is it, hit the ground running."

They are homesick, but want to make things work in Raleigh. They've begun attending networking sessions sponsored by the

Capital Area Workforce Development Board

, which has helped survivors find jobs and get support.

Mitchell believes living in the Triangle can work for the Banks and for others by telling their story and asking for help.

"It's not about a handout it's a hand-up," she says.