Local News

Two Gustav evacuees come home to Raleigh

Posted August 31, 2008 6:35 p.m. EDT
Updated August 31, 2008 10:47 p.m. EDT

— Hurricane Gustav weakened slightly after crossing Cuba to a Category 3 status Sunday. However, it still packed top winds near 115 mph, and forecasters predicted it would increase to a Category 4 before making landfall along the U.S. Gulf coast.

More than 1 million Americans made wary by Hurricane Katrina took buses, trains, planes and cars out of New Orleans and other coastal cities, where Katrina killed about 1,600 people in 2005. Two medical students from Raleigh were among those evacuees.

“Hopefully it misses us,” Bill Teeter said.

Teeter and Margaret Jones are second year medical students at Tulane University in New Orleans. When the city called for evacuations, the school closed its doors, and they got out of the city.

“Right before we caught our cab there was a parade celebrating the memorial of the Katrina victims,” Teeter said.

Katrina nearly destroyed New Orleans almost exactly three years ago. Evacuees are rattled by the eerie similarities of Gustav to the path Katrina took before forever changing their lives.

“I guess there is a breaking point for some people and let's just hope that this storm doesn't make us go there,” Jones said.

Teeter and Jones will wait out Gustav in Raleigh with family, but is not easy, they said.

“You're sitting here 900 miles away when you're entire life is down there,” Teeter said.

“Thinking about the spirit of New Orleans being broken again. Because to watch the city be rebuilt after Katrina is a wonderful experience, an amazing experience to be a part of. To have to deal with that again is heartbreaking,” Jones said.

At 8 p.m. EDT Sunday, the National Hurricane Center said Gustav was a Category 3 storm centered about 175 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River and moving northwest near 17 mph.

Rain started falling in New Orleans before sunset, and tropical storm force winds reached the southeastern tip of the state. The first hurricane force winds were due to arrive after midnight and reach Category 3 force - from 111 to 130 mph - at the point where Gustav's center makes landfall west of the city.