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CNR students and staff members participated in the 2009 and 2010 Plunge service trip opportunities during Winter Intersession to New Orleans to aid in the recovery work following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
In 2009, CNR partnered with the St. Bernard Project, a non-profit, grassroots organization that began rebuilding homes in August 2006 in St. Bernard Parish of New Orleans. The parish was inundated with rainwater and floodwaters, averaging 6 to 20 feet in depth, for nearly two weeks. Families in St. Bernard Parish lost everything: houses were flooded and collapsed, possessions were destroyed, tools and methods for livelihoods were ruined. Over 200 residents of the Parish lost their lives as a result of the hurricanes. After the storms, 100 percent of the homes were officially uninhabitable. By using volunteer labor and donations for building supplies, the St. Bernard Project was able to rebuild homes in 8-12 weeks. A total of $12,000 worth of building supplies completely rebuilt a house that had been gutted to the studs.
The following year, CNR volunteers worked with New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity, an independent affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International. NOAHH builds new houses in partnership with sponsors, volunteers, and homeowner families to eliminate poverty housing in the New Orleans area while serving as a catalyst to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action. As of June 12, 2009, NOAHH has built over 320 homes since being founded in 1983 and have 50 more homes under construction in different areas of metro New Orleans. CNR students volunteering with NOAHH were able to take part in rebuilding efforts, which included: exterior and roofing work, framing repair, rough and finish electric, plumbing, insulation and drywall, interior texturing and painting, flooring and cabinets, interior doors, baseboards and trim work.