More than a year later, the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina are no longer in the public eye as they were in the weeks just after the storm. But as a group of Tulsa college students found out, residents in New Orleans are still in desperate need of help.
News on 6 reporter Heather Lewin has more on what Tulsans are doing to lend a hand.
More than 150 students from Oral Roberts University headed out for the fall break trip of a lifetime, but it wasn't to the sandy shores of a tropical paradise. These volunteers gave up their vacation to help rebuild New Orleans. Marcus Streater: â€œyou don't really understand what that means unless you're driving through the city and you just see for miles and miles that the water had come up so high, you start to really get a grasp of why you saw people on the roof of their homes."
Phil Lundrigan: â€œyou see disaster, you see it on TV, but you never really see it in the United States and I just really wanted to go." The work wasn't easy. For a full week, they spent all day, every day pulling nails, knocking down moldy walls and hauling off junk. Gutting ruined homes, untouched for a whole year.
Crystal Dyer: "we ran into rats, termites, fire ants. 8 inches or so of thick mud that was still wet and nasty and dirty, we'd put on mold suits and masks, goggles and we had the whole suit and there was just mud and dirt and grime everywhere."
But as they saw the impact of their presence on real people, with nowhere else to turn, students say the hard work became a joy. Marcus Streater: â€œtheir faces when we came and got off of our buses and we would drop our teams off at each one of these homes." Phil Lundrigan: "she had been praying several days before, Lord send somebody, cause I have nobody." Crystal Dyer: "the whole time she just stood there, she kept bringing us water and telling us, thank you, thank you, thank you."
And though they left knowing there was still work to be done, they also knew they did more than just look at the devastation and shake their heads. Crystal Dyer: "Oh man, it's so worth it. You receive so much in return from helping other people. It gives you that sense that you're making a difference in the world."
The group 'Service International' organized the mission trip. The students say they'd love to go back.
Many had spent last year's fall break doing the same work with the group in affected areas in Mississippi.