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Katrina Victims Rebuild Life in Triangle

Time does little to dull Leslie Huntington's memories of the hurricane or her determination not to return to New Orleans.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — It has been two years since Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast. The storm flooded 80 percent of New Orleans and killed more than 1,600 people in Louisiana and Mississippi.
Thousands of displaced New Orleans residents chose not to rebuild after the storm. Some moved to the Triangle, seeking refuge. Leslie Huntington lives in southeast Raleigh now, but she has not forgotten the damage Hurricane Katrina did to her hometown.

“You visit it and they make it seem like New Orleans is looking good, but there are some places that's still not fixed up that needs to be repaired,” said Huntington. "It's sad. It's sad."

Huntington is still disappointed about the condition of her old New Orleans neighborhood in the Lower 9th Ward. She visited last month.

“It's the Lower 9th Ward that was really damaged, and all around in that area, it still hasn't been cleaned up. Houses are still down on the ground,” said Huntington.

Huntington and her family still remember what it was like being trapped in their home for a week after the levees broke. Her daughter, Casey, is unable to shake the memories of wading through filthy, chest-deep water to get help.

“Having water this high up to you, it hits you that this really just happened,” said Casey Huntington.

Eventually, Huntington and her family were among thousands of evacuees who left New Orleans by airplane. As it turned out, the storm made them accidental residents of North Carolina.

“Nobody knew where they were going until they boarded a plane and the stewardess told us when we got on the plane that we were boarding to North Carolina,” said Huntington.

Huntington and her family spent about a month in a Raleigh shelter before finding a permanent home.

She does not see the rest of her family as often as she would like, Huntington said , but she has no plans to move back to New Orleans.



Ken Smith, Reporter
Minnie Bridgers, Web Editor

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