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Katrina Evacuee Finds New Life in Raleigh

Geraldine Gilbert was living in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit. She now calls Raleigh home and has not been back to the Big Easy.

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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.