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Katrina destruction still felt

ASU professor, architecture students help rebuild New Orleans

 by Kendall Wright
 published on Wednesday, August 29, 2007

REBUILDING A CITY: ASU faculty associate and architect Mark Ryan will take 65 architect and landscape design students to New Orleans this fall to help in the design and possible rebuilding of damaged areas./issues/news/701510
Andrea Bloom / THE STATE PRESS
REBUILDING A CITY: ASU faculty associate and architect Mark Ryan will take 65 architect and landscape design students to New Orleans this fall to help in the design and possible rebuilding of damaged areas.
 

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Today marks the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, but for one ASU professor it's just another day in his efforts to rebuild what was destroyed.

Mark Ryan, faculty associate professor at the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, spent the fall 2006 semester in New Orleans working to rebuild damaged structures.

On Sept. 14 he will return to the city with 65 architecture students.

He and his students will work closely on projects with Tulane University architecture students the same students that ASU hosted for a semester after Katrina struck.

Ryan said it was his interaction with the Tulane students who visited that encouraged him to start a program within ASU for third-semester architecture students to help out in the city.

"New Orleans has always been an amazingly unique city that deserves to be preserved," Ryan said.

The program will provide a new opportunity for students to make a difference while fulfilling a graduation requirement, Ryan said.

Last year, Ryan said students got so involved with rebuilding the community that they spent more than 14 hours a day on the housing sites for the eight days they spent in New Orleans.

"The biggest thing is letting our students see the incredible environment, but also to show them how two years later the devastation has still not been rebuilt as much as we would have thought," Ryan said.

Ryan's program works closely with Tulane University and other universities around the nation that are involved in a program called Citybuild: Consortium of Schools. The program works primarily on rebuilding housing for low-income areas that were destroyed when the levies surrounding New Orleans broke and the city was flooded.

Erica Favela, an English junior from Slidell, La., transferred to ASU from Loyola University in New Orleans one day after moving into her dorm her freshman year.

Favela, who moved back to New Orleans after the fall 2005 semester, said after two years of destruction, the people of New Orleans are ready to move past their hardships and rebuild their lives.

"People that live in New Orleans are tired of hearing about Hurricane Katrina," she said. "Everyone seems to agree that we just want to move on and rebuild. We will all remember the destruction of the storm, but people realize that in order to rebuild our lives we can't dwell in the past."

Her second semester of her freshman year, Favela returned to Loyola University and continues to study there. Since returning, she said everyday life and school has been difficult.

But, she added, the people at her school and in her community have the mindset of moving past the devastation.

When the storm hit, Favela said she had been moved into her Loyola dorm for less than 24 hours before her father called and told her to pack her things. They moved to Phoenix, where they had family.

"It was basically that I had one day to decide what I was going to do, and even with that I really had no decision," Favela said. "I didn't even have time to pack all my things. I remember that getting on the plane to come to Arizona I only had about two pairs of jeans in my backpack."

Although Favela enjoyed her time in the desert, she said the swamps of Louisiana would always remain her home.

She said she had always planned on returning to New Orleans.

Now that she has returned, Favela said life is hardly the same, but nonetheless it is her home.

"Normal is not a word that can describe the state of New Orleans two years later," Favela said. "Nothing will ever be normal again, but things here are just going to take time."

Reach the reporter at kendall.wright@asu.edu.



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