Fatigue, Frustration Settle In For Hurricane Evacuees Still Waiting to Return Home

Sep 20, 2018

Health Services Lead Debbie Hayden, RN consults with mother Jaquana regarding care for her one-year-old Aliyah Rogers, while at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Friday Center on September 17, 2018.
Credit Daniel Cima / American Red Cross

As flood waters subside, Carteret County has been sending buses to shelters to bring home evacuees displaced by Hurricane Florence. Many of those evacuees have been staying at a megashelter in Chapel Hill since the storm made landfall last week.

On Thursday morning, Jaquana Gregg bounced her 18-month-old baby girl on her knees as she waited for the buses to arrive at the Friday Center at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. It's just one of the places they've sought shelter since moving to Morehead City from South Carolina three weeks ago.

Gregg had been hoping for a fresh start at her mom's house, but then Hurricane Florence arrived. They fled to a shelter at Knightdale High School before being moved to the Friday Center. She said Red Cross volunteers have been generous and accommodating, but moving once is hard enough.

Being evacuated from crowded shelter to crowded shelter is “even more stressful. Even more stressful because long as I been here now, it makes three weeks I've been in North Carolina. I still haven't got anything done," Gregg said.

Before boarding the Carteret County school buses, Gregg said she's looking for work. And she hoped the hurricane recovery effort will present an opportunity to finally start her new life in North Carolina.

Catherine Shaughnessy holds her spotted service animal, a black and white cat named Zoey, at the University of North Carolina's Friday Center on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018.
Credit Rebecca Martinez / WUNC

Also at the Friday Center on Thursday was Catherine Shaughnessy, who snuggled her spotted service animal, a black and white cat named Zoey.

Shaughnessy said hurricane destruction was part of the reason she left Miami for Morehead City, but after Florence, she said she doesn't plan to move back to the coast at all.

“It's going to be too crazy and hectic with the rebuild,” she said. “I have issues with stress and I've already dealt with all the major hurricanes in Miami and I'm not trying to stick around for the rebuilding. It's going to be too much.”

Shaughnessy said she's interviewing for a job in Raleigh and hopes that she and Zoey can make a new home inland.

Red Cross spokesman Robbie Sofaly said the Friday Center accommodated at least 500 people from across Eastern North Carolina this week and will continue to operate shelters as long as the state needs.