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A tale of two storms, one family

For one family in Wilmington, Hurricane Ophelia brought in a lot more than just heavy surf, gusting winds and torrential rains. It also ignited traumatic memories.

“This is a weird feeling to be in this again, with this wind, and this rain blowing,” says Geraldine Sanders.

Sitting without power, Geraldine Sanders couldn't help but think of what she had already been through just two-and-a-half weeks ago. Right before the levees broke and flooded their neighborhoods, Sanders and most of her extended family fled New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina and headed for North Carolina, only to run into Ophelia.

“After coming out of one storm, and going into another one,” says Sanders, “it gets you all upset. You kinda wonder where the rest of your family are, the rest of the people that you left.”

Four generations of the family came to Wilmington, where Sanders' son, Allan, had offered to take all 18 of them in. With the help of a local church, they later found other places to stay.

But while the Sanders family feels relatively safe from Hurricane Ophelia, they are all burdened by sadness. One of them was left behind and can't be found. Fifty-year-old Warren Sanders, Geraldine's oldest son, hasn't been heard from since Katrina hit. His mother said he just wouldn't leave.

“I'm just hoping and praying that he's not in the house, where he done drowned,” says Sanders, “and this keeps me worried about him.”

Surrounding herself with fmaily, and weathering yet another storm, she waits for a call telling her that Warren has finally been seen, and is safe.