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Helping Out at the Capstone Community Garden

We were fortunate to visit and help out at a community garden in Louisiana’s Lower Ninth Ward, called Capstone Community Garden. The man running the garden, David, moved to Louisiana post-Katrina to do what he can to help out the locals. The garden contains an aquaculture setup and a variety of livestock, and makes use of empty plots of land that have not had houses re-built on them yet.

First Day of Field Work

We began our field work out at the Woodland Trail today which was a fun, yet work-intensive, day. I learned a great deal about the native and exotic woody vegetative species, as well as getting to see a few different animals that make this wonderful forest their home. So, we have one day of restoration work down, and many more to go.

First Site Visit

Today we took our first look at the location we will be conducting restoration surveys throughout the rest of the trip. Matt and I were able to get in a quick flight with the remaining light we had left and checked out the vast forest from an aerial perspective. In addition to our field work on the ground, we will also be working on creating aerial maps of some of the locations in hopes of increasing the efficiency of our observation surveys. I am looking forward to benefitting this bottomland hardwood forest any way I can.

New Orlean’s Lower Ninth Ward – Post Katrina

The concrete flood wall sitting atop a natural levee – protecting the Lower Ninth Ward from the waterway.

Driving into the Ninth Ward early this morning was a moving experience. Our first reactions were of curiosity when viewing an abundant number of post-modern styled homes, often laden with solar panels on the roof. There seemed to be something off by the whole area – as if it was a set for a movie. Then we arrived to a long concrete wall sitting atop a natural levee. This, we then learned, is where a massive break occurred during Hurricane Katrina, which caused a great deal of property loss in the Ninth Ward, and even worse – the loss of human life.

An aerial view of the extent of the service canal that flooded and caused the damage to the NInth Ward during Hurricane Katrina.

The concrete flood wall stands atop the natural levee as the last hope between the Lower Ninth Ward and the service canal, which fortunately has been upgraded to a more reliable model then that which was installed prior to Hurricane Katrina. In addition to the upgraded flood wall, most of the newly built houses are now being built with a certain amount of adaptation for expected flooding. This adaptation is seen by their foundations being raised upwards of six feet. This height will allow for safety when faced with minor flooding, but it still is not a permanent fix if the newly built flood wall does not do its job.

The service canal behind the flood wall protecting the Lower Ninth Ward.

After our visit to New Orlean’s Lower Ninth Ward today, we have gained additional realization about the tragedy caused by Hurricane Katrina and the effects that improper preparation can have when dealing with such a large possibility.

 

The Night Before

Tomorrow, March 15th, our New Orleans class departs on a learning adventure to one of America’s many unique cities. I am excited to visit New Orleans for the very first time and be able to offer any help I can in their long-term restoration post-Katrina. Hopefully I will be able to grasp a deeper understanding of their culture and environmental differences when I return. It is not often someone is granted a chance like this, and I intend to take advantage of it as much as I possibly can.