Day One Of Work

Monday, March 8, 2010

After a rough night we had to wake up bright and early.  While my mother laughed at me for calling 6 am early, as a college kid it was painful.  I ate my cereal and instant coffee and before I could wipe the sleep from my eyes we were on a bus and off to the levee. 

When I originally chose to come to New Orleans with HOPE I assumed that, like previous years, we were going to be demolishing/repairing house.  This year however the work was a little different.  Before people populated the New Orleans area the Mississippi River would flood it's banks every year, bringing silt and fertile soil to the land.  This caused acres of wetlands to develop.  These wetlands acted as a natural barrier when storms hit.  For every mile of wetlands a hurricane hit it would decrease significantly in size.  When people arrived, however, they only saw the Mississippi as a threat and built levees and canals to control it's power.  This prevented the soil from getting to the wetlands and eventually much of these important wetlands died off.  In an attempt to restore the wetlands that have been destroyed my school, in conjunction with the National Relief Network, set about planting trees along the water.  Although we were not making the direct impact we thought we were going to, hopefully 50 years from now these trees will protect New Orleans from getting hit again by such devastating storms. 

What was once wetlands... now just muddy land.
What the wetlands should look like.
Other groups had been out working in the week prior to us so we had to load 60+ people into a trailer and get driven a few miles down the levee system to begin planting.  While doing all of this we also had to be wary of alligators and snakes that lurked around the area.  Luckily it was overcast and they don't come out often in that weather.  We ended up planting so quickly on the first day that they ran out of trees to give us.  It also started to rain so with hundreds of trees planted we left a little early.  Because this stretch of levee was made out of earth they would not be able to drive the tractor out to get us if the ground was too wet so we were forced to leave a little early.

It took about an hour to drive from our work site to our campsite and by the time we made it home all we had in mind was food and showers.  After some reflection and bonding games we got to bed (after miraculously finding the heat!)

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