As she watched the floodwaters rise around her at a New Orleans hospital, a very pregnant Latoya Carney was more worried about her survival than about how she would take care of the new baby.
A week later, she gave birth to a healthy boy, Leonard Wishem, in Raleigh, a place she had briefly lived as a child. Carney arrived in the Triangle on Monday, the day before she delivered.
"Oohs" and "ahs" flowed from a crowd Thursday at WakeMed Raleigh Campus as the hospital staff gave a baby shower. Carney, who lost all her possessions in the storm, opened more than two dozen bags of all sizes full of Carolina blue baby outfits, toys, gift cards and cash.
"I was just so excited," Carney said. "I didn't expect that much."
There were so many gifts that WakeMed provided a truck to cart them to Carney's aunt's house in Raleigh, where the mother and newborn will stay.
Elizabeth Rice, nurse-manager for WakeMed's postpartum and nursery unit, said such generosity shouldn't be surprising.
"You see it on TV, and you want to help," she said. "This way, you can touch someone personally."
On Aug. 27, as the storm approached, Carney's three children fled to safety in Texas with their grandmother. Because of her advanced pregnancy, she stayed in New Orleans and was admitted the next day to University Hospital.
The hospital discharged her the Monday that the hurricane roared through the city. But Carney was stranded at the hospital.
Carney was evacuated to Slidell, La., last Thursday. Her brother Casey, who lives in Raleigh, bought her a bus ticket to Raleigh. She went to WakeMed and gave birth Tuesday.
Now, she wants to reunite with her other children and make a new life for them all in the Triangle.
Staff writer T. Keung Hui can be reached at 829-4534 or firstname.lastname@example.org.