Image: Paul and Yvonne Biro
Paul and Yvonne Biro

CULLOWHEE - Two Hurricane Katrina evacuees from New Orleans, Paul and Yvonne Biro, found refuge from the storm in Western North Carolina and started working for Western's food service provider, Aramark, in Dodson Cafeteria on Tuesday, Sept. 6.

Before the storm struck, Paul had been working for Aramark at the Convention Center in New Orleans, while Yvonne had been retired for several years.

The Biros left their home in eastern New Orleans on the Sunday afternoon before Katrina made landfall on Monday, Aug. 29. They said many residents of the city had become complacent because all the storms of the past had seemed to turn in the nick of time and miss New Orleans. The Biros also evacuated the city in September 2004, when Hurricane Ivan came ashore.

“When we left because of Katrina, the banks were closed and even the Wal-Mart stores were boarded up,” Paul Biro said. The couple expected to be able to return in several days, and in their rush to safety, left their home with only a few belongings.

“I didn't know if we were going to get out of New Orleans alive, the way people were driving,” Paul said. The Biros traveled to Franklin, where Paul's elderly parents reside, and that's were they are living until they can find a home to rent closer to campus.

The Red Cross in Asheville has assisted the couple in getting started on insurance paperwork, although they have not received any word on the condition of their house in New Orleans, which was located 1.5 miles from a levee that broke. They assume the house was destroyed by flood waters.

The Biros have been married 37 years. Paul has two adult children who were not in the storm's path, but Yvonne has relatives who live in New Orleans with whom she has not yet had contact.

The Biros said they are thankful for the help they have received in the mountains.

“The college and Aramark have really bent over backwards for us,” Paul said. “The way people have been treating us here almost makes me want to cry. We didn't know there was this much kindness.”

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Last modified: Monday, September 12, 2005
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