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Teens Renew New Orleans


For many high-school students, summer vacation is a time for baseball games and trips to the lake and amusement parks.  But this year hundreds of teens from across the country are giving up some of their free time and own money to make a difference for residents still struggling after Hurricane Katrina. Reed Galin has more.


(Locator: Slidell, LA)

Mardi Gras parades add flavor to Cajun country...but these floats were put together with hurricane debris, and clouds linger over recovery efforts.

Bus tour: “This is where you’re going to see the devastation.”

Volunteers from First United Methodist Church in Hartwell, Georgia came to help.

Bus tour: “That porch ain’t got no house.”

These teens saw little effect from the deadly storm, other than higher gas prices where they live.  But here, they faced reality.

Paul David Foster/Project NOAH Volunteer: “I didn’t think it was going to be too bad.  And then we went across that bridge and there was nothing there.”

Mauricus Jones/Project NOAH Volunteer: “You really can’t experience it unless you really come and see it.”

The students spent their own pocket money to repair homes.

Johnny Williamson/Project NOAH Volunteer: “If you have a bunch of people working together, you can overcome a lot of things.”

A thousand high-school students from United Methodist churches across the country are volunteering this summer for Project NOAH – “New Orleans Area Hope.” 

Beau Swafford/Youth Minister, First United Methodist Church, Hartwell, Ga.: “I kind of underestimated them, earlier.  Didn’t bring enough sheetrock.”

They’re repairing homes for folks who felt abandoned.

George Ragsdale/Project NOAH Coordinator:  “A bunch of teenagers in your house working on it – these families catch their energy and catch their emotion and feel hope and feel alive again.”

This woman rebuilt her home after a fire.  Four months later it was flooded by Katrina. She’s still in a FEMA trailer.

Rosetta Beuchat-Zweig/84-year-old Katrina Evacuee: “What can I say.  It’s just wonderful to see them doing this.”

Shana Toney/Project NOAH Volunteer: “During the day, it feels hot.  But it’s a really good feeling.”

Project NOAH is a living history lesson.

George Ragsdale/Project NOAH Coordinator: “I hope that as teenagers go back from here their lives will be different.  Because I know that the people’s houses that they work on lives will be different.”


Project NOAH is full for this summer but organizers are hoping to extend the relief effort beyond this summer, because of the amount of work that still needs to be done.
Project NOAH is organized by First United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge. For more information, log onto the Project NOAH website at or call 225-383-4777.

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