Monthly Archives: January 2011

AmeriCorps NCCC: Cowpies in Cameron Parish

AmeriCorps NCCC

It was hard to imagine a home once stood on the empty concrete slab I stared at. The crumble of bricks, the remnants of tiles were the only reminders that lives once unfolded on this patch of earth surrounded by oak trees and knee-high grass. But I’d become immune to this scene; I’d seen enough destruction in the last few months that I wasn’t fazed anymore. I’d seen homes sagging like wet cardboard, entire houses tossed into swamps, houses where people had drowned in their attics in floods.

Fresh off two months of building homes in Katrina-damaged New Orleans, my eleven AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) team mates and I were well-equipped to handle the destruction of Cameron Parish. Hurricane Rita, which came ashore just a month after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, flattened this place as if it were all made out of Legos. Since then, groups of church volunteers and college spring breakers and AmeriCorps teams have come to rebuild.

Read the rest of the story on The Voluntary Traveler website.

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A Louisiana Life: Shelby Stanga

Shelby Stanga might be a television personality, but you won’t find him living in luxury. The swamp logger prefers to sleep in a sleeping bag and hammock next to a boat launch on the Tangipahoa River.

Stanga has recently become a bit of a star thanks to the History Channel’s show Ax Men, which features him and four other logging companies around the country.

Stanga, as the show chronicles, pulls ancient sinker logs out of the Bedico Swamp in Tangipahoa Parish. Between 1850 and 1944, the swamp around Tangipahoa River and its creeks and bayous was milled extensively. The old-growth trees, most of which are cypress, were felled and floated down the creek to Lake Pontchartrain and used in home construction in New Orleans. Some of the logs sunk, and they’ve been sitting in the mud ever since — some for more than 100 years. The trees range in age from 2,000 years old to 5,000 years old.

Read the rest of the story online at Louisiana Life.

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People of the Mounds: Exploring Ancient Cultures

My first impression of the massive ancient earthworks at Poverty Point is not a good one.

I’m driving on Highway 577 east of Epps in Northeast Louisiana and don’t realize I’ve just driven past the site’s six curved ridges until I look at a diagram later. The highway plows right through the rings, but they’ve been so worn down by farming and natural erosion through the millennia that what must once have been an impressive sight now (to the untrained eye, anyway) appears to be little more than an empty field.

But when I get a chance to see the rings and the mounds up close and learn about their construction, I quickly change my mind.

Read the rest of the story online at Louisiana Life.

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