SOUL NOLA working to plant more trees to prevent severe flooding

Last year her group was able to plant 190 trees and the group's mission is to grow by engaging one neighborhood at a time. So far, that includes Mid-City, Algiers, and soon Broadmoor. In that process, something new has sprung up between participants.

NEW ORLEANS -- So many factors contributed to the Aug. 5 flooding event, but could more trees help lessen the destruction next time? 

"This is still a very young tree, this is the Sweet Bay Magnolia," Susunnah Burley pointed out in the Tulane Canal neighborhood in Mid City.

She says this tree could one day be New Orleans' best defenders from flooding. 

"We're going to plant 600 this year," she said.

Burley founded and is the director of SOUL NOLA.  The non-profit is aimed at restoring the city's green infrastructure, specifically trees.  Burley recalls she's been a victim of the flooding herself.

"We all feel so helpless and like we don't have any control with the flooding that happened, but this is something that everybody can do," Burley said.

And she says during heavy rainfall, what's needed most is a way to slow down water run off.  And that's where thirsty trees come in.

"For example, Bald Cypress, Live Oak, can drink up to 800 to 1000 gallons of water a day," Burley said.

Last year her group was able to plant 190 trees and the group's mission is to grow by engaging one neighborhood at a time.  So far, that includes Mid-City, Algiers, and soon Broadmoor.  In that process, something new has sprung up between participants.

"It also helped neighbors get together, and if I know my neighbor has the same trees, we can engage in conversation like oh how are your trees doing," said Jacob Rickoll, Tulane Canal Neighborhood President.

And those neighbors have encouraged more to join.

"So this is exactly what we're trying to do, which is to cluster trees close together so they can more quickly impact storm water and all the other issues," Burley said.

And the trees are good for more than just drainage.

"Trees do a lot for us right, they help us breathe, they clean the air, they make it beautiful, so there's just no downside," said Kamili Shaw.

Of course, the city still has a lot of work today to fix the infrastructure, but Burley says trees could help.

For more information on the group, and how to get trees for free click here.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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