For the University's Katrina Recovery Team, which traveled to New Orleans in January to assist continuing efforts to rebuild the city after 2004's devastating hurricane, the New Orleans Saints' 31-17 victory over the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV was a symbol of the city's newfound hope and resolution.
Students and faculty who took part in the trip see the victory as the beginning of better things to come.
"As the coaches and players indicated, having this kind of accomplishment shines a light on the spirit of New Orleans," Janice Butler, director of civic engagement and service-learning at the University and one of the leaders for the trip said.
According to Butler, the city's devastation in 2005 displaced more than 400,000 people and only about 60 percent of the population has returned.
"While a lot of progress has been made, there are still people who are living in FEMA trailers or temporary housing and trying to come back home," Butler said. "We hope people understand that the struggle still continues today."
The student-organized Katrina Recovery Club has sent volunteers to the area almost every semester. In the past two trips, students have worked with the St. Bernard Project, which strives to rebuild homes so displaced families-including low-income families and elderly and disabled homeowners-can return to the city. In the district where the project operates, only two homes were habitable following Katrina.
"The St. Bernard Project has condensed the process of getting a displaced family back into their homes to a eight to 12 week process, at a cost of approximately $12-15,000," Derrick Houck '10, one of the January delegation's student leaders said. "It's pretty incredible what they've been able to do there when considering how they began."
Volunteers worked on two homes during their most recent trip, one in the earliest stages of being rebuilt and one in the latest.
A major obstacle to rebuilding is that homes must go through mold remediation before construction can commence, which requires gutting the house, wire-brushing every inch of exposed wood and then treating it with chemical solutions.
"It's a somewhat monotonous process but a vital one," Houck said. "Sing-alongs to the radio are vital to maintaining morale."
The club has not ceased its recovery efforts upon returning to campus and hopes to raise enough money this semester to sponsor its own home.
It is currently planning "Mardi Gras Bucknell," a fundraiser to be held Friday, Feb. 19 from 8-11 p.m. A $10 ticket will give participants admission to a concert by the Folk Justice Band, a taste of New Orleans food and other games and activities. All participants will receive a mask and beads.
The club is accepting donations from anyone interested in helping the cause, as well as new members.
It hopes that as the Saints transformed from a hopeless team once nicknamed the "Aint's" to Super Bowl champions, New Orleans can transform from a city of post-Katrina devastation to one of glory and pride.