During the first of their 36 years of marriage, Henry and Elaine Jones made their home on Fort Braggâ€™s army base.
Since then, the couple has lived in Louisiana and raised a family. They are now proud grandparents.
â€œNew Orleans isnâ€™t like any other city,â€ said Henry. â€œIf youâ€™re born there, you die there.â€
When news of Hurricane Katrina hit the airwaves, the family sat glued to the television. They soon learned they would have to evacuate.
â€œOur major worry was when it entered the gulf â€“ then it was panic time,â€ said Elaine.
The couple gathered the family, packed up their things and drove through five states to the home of Henryâ€™s sister, who lives in Iron Station.
And so, Henry and Elaine found themselves in North Carolina again.
â€œWe made a big olâ€™ circle,â€ Henry said.
It wasnâ€™t easy for the family to make it to Iron Station. Along with Elaine and Henry came their daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren ages 7, 3 and 4 months. The family dog, Tiny, was also on board.
Driving to North Carolina in a van and a truck, the family was plagued with questions like â€œCan we make it? Do we have enough gas?â€ It made for an extremely tense trip.
â€œWe had to stop in many rest stops,â€ said Elaine.
Many stops were also made for then-4-month-old Tyrene, who had to have his bottle warmed with a generator.
During the ordeal, Tyreneâ€™s father, Henry Jr., was working in California as an union electrician.
He learned about the hurricane on television and called his wife of two and a half years, Emma.
â€œI called her, and they were leaving,â€ Henry Jr. said.
Once his family made it to North Carolina, Henry Jr. went on a trip of his own â€” he flew to North Carolina in order to be with his family.
Henry and Elaineâ€™s daughter, her husband and their two children eventually went to Atlanta.
The rest of the family stayed together, and after spending many nights sleeping on the floor, they found a house of their own in Lincolnton.
Throughout their ordeal, the Lincoln Chapter of the American Red Cross and the kindness of strangers have helped them through.
â€œSince weâ€™ve been here, the people of Lincoln County have been more than generous,â€ Elaine said. â€œWe just want to say a sincere thanks to all the people.â€
Henry was originally worried that people would be hostile â€” seeing New Orleans evacuees as bringing crime and taking jobs.
Thankfully, this was not the case.
â€œYou have some decent people,â€ he said.
While the family members are fans of North Carolina, where they will eventually end up remains unsure.
â€œThis is one of the nicest places Iâ€™ve been before,â€ said Henry Jr.
His father is a little more set in his ways.
â€œI miss home,â€ Henry said. â€œIâ€™m not going to lie.â€
Since evacuating, Henry has been back home twice and found the experience unpleasant.
â€œThere is no home,â€ he said. â€œIt was total destruction.â€
In fact, his old neighborhood reminded him of being in Vietnam. Members of the National Guard walked around with big guns, making everyone uneasy.
â€œIt seemed like they would have shot anyone who got out of line,â€ Henry said.
Life in Lincolnton isnâ€™t quite so stressful now. The family has a little house with hardwood floors and a big picture window.
Whether or not they choose to stay, the family is thankful to have survived the wrath of Hurricane Katrina, even if their worldly goods did not.
â€œThis is the one theyâ€™ve been warning us about,â€ said Elaine.
by Sarah Grano