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"Flight of Friendship"-Oregon Volunteers Hands-On in New Orleans

April 4, 2007

New Orleans, LA - Over a hundred Oregonians are putting in some hard labor in New Orleans this week as part of the "Flight of Friendship," hosted by the Oregon-based aid group Mercy Corps. Governor Kulongoski and Portland Mayor Tom Potter are among the civic and community leaders planting trees, deconstructing homes and refurbishing community centers. Portland architect Kacey Jurgens says she has family in the area, and she wanted to do more.

"Much of the community is completely wiped out right now. And there are a lot of small pockets of really courageous people who have stayed in their neighborhoods and are really trying to revitalize them. But, it's really uphill."

Volunteers are also meeting with local business leaders and public officials to figure out what more they can do once they're back home. The "Flight of Friendship" participants are being hosted by Mercy Corps' Gulf Coast Hurricane Recovery Team.

Rick Denhart moved to New Orleans from Portland as part of the Recovery Team to oversee deconstruction projects, which pull all useable materials from destroyed homes and makes it available for local rebuilding at lower prices.

"This is the first of fifteen homes over the next three to four months that we'll be doing with local contractors, and that material going back into the community is really a big asset."

More information on the "Flight of Friendship" is online at

Dondrea Warner/Eric Mack, Public News Service - OR