Mid-Missouri Native Replants Roots in New Orleans
Katrina ripped out trees and smashed them into homes. Half a year later, not much is cleaned up. Now, someone with mid-Missouri roots is planting the seeds of change through Tulane's Green Club.
"You can try to hold onto stuff," Laura Pavecevic-Johnston of Moberly, Mo., "but that's not ever going to work."
Liz Davey, another club member, added, "We've heard stories about how people lost their trees, one of the things most upsetting to people when they get back."
Signs to get rid of debris are all over neighborhoods because uprooted trees are still there, six months later. Through the Green Club, Pavicevic-Johnston helps others deal with the storm's aftermath.
"We have all been down because of the hurricane," explained New Orleans resident Charles Reith. "There was just this period of grayness and gloom that lingered. Even when you couldn't come back to the city, you heard about how many trees were down and how the city just looked so terrible without them. I feel it's something we can do."
Pavicevic-Johnston left the Tulane campus last August to escape Katrina.
"I left with a backpack. So did a lot of kids," she recalled. "The few months I was at home, I didn't really have anything."
But, Pavicevic-Johnston found higher, drier ground at Mizzou, closer to her Moberly home. MU also offered free tuition, familiarity and family.
"I was really well taken care of, compared to so many people in the city," she added.
One semester later, Pavicevic-Johnson returned to New Orleans, hoping to help rebuild the city.
"I'm really glad to come back as a student to see how many ways people can get involved, helping others," she said. "There's been a number of people here who said, 'Well, I'm not going to live long enough to see this tree get that big,' but I really want to get this started."
University officials say nine out every 10 Tulane students have returned to campus.
At 10:00 p.m. Wednesday, on "Return to Ruin," KOMU will tell you about the Missouri National Guard's role in rebuilding a New Orleans suburb.