Wednesday, January 10, 2007

New Orleans Trees

Wow. It's hard to know how to start this and what to mention first regarding the devastation of N.O. area. The devastation is still so wide spread even a year and a half later. It is amazingly, well, scary.

My area rolled into the N.O. area around 7am on Sunday morning. A hush fell over the bus as we watched the scenery roll by in the early morning light that was shining through the mist. As the sunlight poked through the clouds, the first thing that was mentioned by almost everyone was the trees - the dead ones, the wind-blown ones, the ones that were no longer there. The huge amount of dead trees rather scared a few people.

Later that day, we asked our tour guide about the trees. What happened is that in some places, the sea water wasn't pumped out for several weeks, causing the salt to get into the soil and kill the roots of most of the trees. The only trees that seem to be alive are palm trees and a few cypress trees. It was so strange to go through places like the ninth ward and see nothing but a few dead trees and then come up suddenly on a very much thriving palm tree.

Because of the lack of living trees and because the soil will no longer be able support most types of trees for many years, I was proud to be able to plant a few trees at building site that I was working at on the first day. When they said that they needed people to be landscapers for the day, I jumped at the chance. I wanted to help to replace some of the trees that had been lost. I even got to meet one of homeowners whose tree I helped to plant.

While I was proud to have planted that tree, I wish you could have seen her reaction to the news that not only would she be able to move into her house soon, but that she had a tree! Tears were rolling down her face. I started to realize that the trees here in N.O. meant as much to the residents here, as they seem to mean to the volunteers.

I will write more about my experiences and post some pictures when I get back.

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