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Helping Hurricane Katrina Victims Rebuild

Students from ESF take winter break in New Orleans

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Ten ESF students and one faculty member spent a week of the 2009-2010 winter break in New Orleans. Yes, they did do a little sightseeing but most of the week was devoted to helping the victims of Hurricane Katrina put their lives and neighborhoods back together.

One group of ESF students - Becca Osborne, Emily Wilmott, Felicia Culverwell, Chelsea Geyer, Jamila Slade, Tivona Renoni, and Tia Giermek - made the trip with Operation Southern Comfort, a Central New York organization that has taken over 25 trips to Louisiana and Mississippi helping Katrina victims to rebuild homes, a museum, tutor school children, and recently, plant trees. www.OperationSouthernComfort.org

Another group of 15 volunteers made the trip with the Protestant Campus Ministry at Syracuse University and SUNY-ESF. ESF students; Samantha Brooks, Erik Jacobsen, and Nathan Roser, along with ESF Associate Professor Douglas Daley helped put the finishing touches on a new home.

Daley said, "It was like a punch list of finishing work that included grouting, bathroom tiles, plumbing fixtures, it's the kind of stuff that you do at home on the weekends."

It as fun and very rewarding, he said, "We all wanted to stay another week, or two, or three. But it's not just about going down and driving nails and painting, the people down there are still hurting and it helps them when someone shows they care."

Daley explained that many neighborhoods haven't been rebuilt because the people haven't come back and that means stores and shopping centers remain empty, too.

Slade said, "In addition to homes and people, the devastation also includes wetlands and wildlife habitats that it's going to take a long time to restore."

During the week, Jacobsen wrote, "Days are going fast, and things are getting done. New Orleans has seen better days, but it has also been far worse, and it feels right to be part of the recovery."

Another trip is being organized by ESF for spring break, March 13-21. An information meeting will be held January 28th from 5:30-6:30PM in the Moon Library Conference Room.

During the winter break trip, ESF students helped plant one-thousand Cyprus trees along the soil bank in Bayous Bienvenue and Dupre, along the Violet Canal to restore wind and water barriers against future storms. The trees are started in pots, when they reach a height about 6 feet they are planted in the bayous. Professor Richard Goyer of Louisiana State University is overseeing the project.