NEW ORLEANS - Dozens of Lutheran teens canvassed Gentilly's streets, pamphlets in hand, with one goal in mind.
"We're spreading the word about evacuating the city when the next hurricane comes," said Molly Anderson, 17, a member of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Strum, WI.
Anderson was one of roughly 45 teen volunteers spread throughout Gentilly, and one of about 450 teens who went into 10 New Orleans neighborhoods to help people get ready in case a hurricane threatens the city.
"You see a lot of people building houses or cleaning up streets or parks. This is kind of a different take on the volunteer aspect, but we think it's just as important as any of those," said John-Michael Early, a member of the evacuteer.org operations committee.
"It makes me feel pretty good," said Alex Thronson, 17, of Strum, WI. "I get to help everyone and see their faces and see how happy they are when I help them."
The first ever Get NOLA Ready Day was in partnership with evacuteer.org and the Red Cross as part of the mayor's new hurricane and disaster preparedness initiative.
Volunteers alerted neighbors to the city's evacuation plan, distributed materials about how to prepare, and, if needed, registered people for city-assisted evacuation.
Neighbors like Brian Hunter said they appreciate the effort...
"Until these guys came today, I didn't know where a location was in case of an emergency," said Hunter. "I'm glad to see the young people out informing the neighborhood of what's going on."
Organizers said it's not just about handing out materials or handbooks. It's about creating a culture of preparedness throughout the city.
"The fear is that people are starting to maybe get a little more comfortable and if a hurricane were to hit this year or in the coming years, maybe not as many people would evacuate," said Early. "This is our mission, and the hardest thing is to actually get in people's homes, get information into their hands, so they know what they need to do in case a storm comes."
"We hope that everybody becomes aware that there is a plan in place for people to be safe," said Pastor Ken Taylor of Immanuel Lutheran Church.
And those like Anderson said her mission of service won't end in New Orleans. Her time in the Crescent City has inspired her to keep helping others wherever she is.
"It's just awesome seeing everyone wanting to help and all the energy it's just amazing," said Anderson.
If you need information about city-assisted evacuation, call 311 or visit ready.nola.gov. Organizers recommend you sign up in advance if you have medical issues or need extra assistance.