WILMINGTON -- It is two years after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and the scars remain. Some Big Easy residents still haven't gone home. One victim of the storm relocated here and hasn't gone back. Katrina evacuee Daniel Aiena thought he would only be at Wrightsville Beach for a short time. Instead, the stay may be permanent. Aiena said, "We expected to be gone a week. You know, stay here a week then go back and clean up, but it ended up being a lot bigger than that." "It was probably the biggest shock I've had my whole life. Just the whole, having the rug pulled out from you." Aiena grew up in New Orleans. When Hurricane Katrina hit it destroyed his home. "I miss my neighborhood, I miss my friends, I miss the food. The food is pretty good up here but it's nothing like what it was down there." For the past two years Aiena's days have been spent building a new life at Wrightsville Beach. "A couple of years ago when we came up here we just felt really welcomed by everyone," Aiena said. "I love it up here. The past two years I've been thinking, would I move back or would I stay here -- and I really like it here." Since the storm Aiena hasn't even gotten a chance to visit his hometown. He hopes to go back someday, but says the increase in crime in the city is holding him back from moving back. Aiena is one of 450 people who relocated to the Cape Fear area after Katrina. He's one of the few who has stuck around. Aiena says the American Red Cross helped his family out right after Katrina. The Red Cross is still working with the victims of the hurricane but the focus now is more on the mental, emotional and life-rebuilding challenges the survivors face.
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