Carolina Katrina Evacuees Brace for Ophelia Among the cities in hurricane Ophelia's projected path is Wilmington, N.C., which has been hosting dozens of people who fled the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina.

Carolina Katrina Evacuees Brace for Ophelia

Carolina Katrina Evacuees Brace for Ophelia

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Among the cities in hurricane Ophelia's projected path is Wilmington, N.C., which has been hosting dozens of people who fled the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina.


The eye of Hurricane Ophelia is edging closer to the North Carolina shoreline. The storm is a minimal Category 1 hurricane. Ophelia is moving slowly. Forecasters warn it could bring as much as 15 inches of rain to some areas and cause flooding. Among the cities in Ophelia's path is Wilmington, North Carolina, which has been hosting dozens of people who fled the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina. NPR's Adam Hochberg has their story.

ADAM HOCHBERG reporting:

For the second time in two weeks, Tim Murray(ph) and Nicki Queen(ph) found themselves loading their possessions into their car and looking for a new place to stay.

(Soundbite of items being loaded into vehicle)

Mr. TIM MURRAY (Hurricane Victim): Oh.

MS. NICKI QUEEN (Hurricane Victim): Oh.

Mr. MURRAY: That's everything.

Ms. QUEEN: Everything.

HOCHBERG: Murray and Queen used to live in Gulfport, Mississippi. They left after Hurricane Katrina destroyed their house and almost everything in it.

(Soundbite of children playing)

HOCHBERG: For the past two weeks they've been here in Wilmington where local charities put them up at an oceanfront hotel. But yesterday, they had to leave there, too, this time to avoid the winds and rain of Ophelia.

Ms. QUEEN: It's a little ironic, I guess, that we heard it was headed this way. But I don't know. It's just--can't wait for hurricane season to be over. Let's put it that way.

HOCHBERG: Today, the couple is waiting out Ophelia in another Wilmington hotel, one that's further inland. For Murray, who used to work as a garage door installer in Mississippi, changing hotels was just one more hassle in a month that's been filled with them.

Mr. MURRAY: We've been all over the place and it probably won't be the last time before this is over with, until we can get, you know--get on our feet and get things going. I'm sure there'll probably be a couple more changes. But everything that we had is gone. All of our--everything.

HOCHBERG: All told, about 50 families who survived Katrina are now in Wilmington. Most are here because they have relatives or friends nearby. But one man ended up in town because this is where he ran out of gas as he fled the Gulf Coast. The evacuees are staying in hotels or living with local families, and Gloria Anaya of the Cape Fear Volunteer Center says she'll be looking after them as Ophelia moves through today.

Ms. GLORIA ANAYA (Cape Fear Volunteer Center): I know where everybody's at, and I've told them that when this storm hits you stay stationary in the hotel rooms or in these houses and apartments that we have set up for them to be in so that, if something does happen, I can get my hands on them immediately and get them out of here.

HOCHBERG: Anaya is confident Katrina survivors will weather whatever Ophelia has in store. She says few have expressed concern about this relatively docile storm.

Ms. ANAYA: They're like, `Bring it on. We ain't worried about no Category 1. We done already been through the worst catastrophe we could be.' They're like, `This is just a tropical windstorm.'

(Soundbite of child playing)

HOCHBERG: Ophelia has caused little anxiety at the house where Emily and Ennis Tollman(ph) are staying. The Tollmans and their two-year-old daughter are living with relatives near Wilmington until it's safe to return home to Waveland, Mississippi. They lost everything in Katrina. Their house was flooded to the roof with sewage and mud, so after that, they say they don't have much to fear from Ophelia.

Mrs. EMILY TOLLMAN (Hurricane Victim): Definitely didn't expect another one to come this soon, but we're, you know--are pretty confident. We figure we've come through about the worst, hopefully, a hurricane's going to throw at us around here.

Mr. ENNIS TOLLMAN (Hurricane Victim): Doesn't have much more to take away.

Mrs. TOLLMAN: Yeah.

Mr. TOLLMAN: All our stuff's completely gone.

HOCHBERG: The Tollmans plan to spend today waiting for Ophelia to pass, playing cards and trying to keep their daughter amused. And they say they'll be well prepared if the house where they're staying happens to lose electricity during the storm. They still have plenty of batteries and bottled water left over from Katrina. Adam Hochberg, NPR News, Wilmington, North Carolina.

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