09/22/05 — Local nurse focuses on helping Katrina victims

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Local nurse focuses on helping Katrina victims

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on September 22, 2005 1:49 PM

Wayne County resident Rhonda VanHook is calmly awaiting Hurricane Rita's attack on the Gulf coast while helping those displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

The Red Cross volunteer has been in Hammond, La., just north of Lake Pontchartrain, since Sept. 16 and is not supposed to leave until Tuesday.

She is a registered nurse at Lenoir Hospital in Kinston, but lives in Wayne County.

She said she is not worried about what dangers another hurricane might bring.

"Actually, I'm not at all nervous about Hurricane Rita. I feel pretty safe where we are," she said. "Most of the people we're taking care of in the shelter here are OK with it, too. They feel like they've been rescued out of the swamp and are in a relatively safe place now."

She said she is keeping very busy just taking care of the victims from the previous storm.

"We are health care providers taking care of people displaced by Hurricane Katrina," she said. "We don't have the time to worry about what else is going on."

She said the conditions are keeping her from paying too much attention to the media -- and hurricane predictions.

"If I had a TV and watched more of it, I'd get more worried," she said.

Mrs. VanHook said living in North Carolina has helped her learn how to handle hurricanes. That means she knows how to heed warnings.

"I think we're going to be fine," she said. "If it was a category 4 hurricane, and they did say evacuate, I'd be gone."

Mrs. VanHook works in one shelter and lives in another.

But even though she is fine, her husband is a little nervous about her being in Louisiana with another hurricane approaching, she said.

"He's concerned because he's watching it on TV more," she said. "I reassured him that they are not going to leave us in harm's way. We have to look at the big picture -- taking care of people displaced by one hurricane. That's what's important."

Mrs. VanHook also has a daughter and two sons.