Trees Sprout Anew 5 Years After Katrina

A staggering number of trees - 320 million - were in Katrina's path, and lost, reports CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller.

Monique Pilie is used to making special deliveries, but these days the New Orleans mail courier is handling much bigger packages.

Her history with trees began when Hurricane Katrina changed New Orleans' landscape forever. Like so many others, Monique felt despair in the face of so much destruction.

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"It was like Armageddon," Peiie told CBS News. "Trees were down everywhere."

Monique began sowing the seeds of her life's mission. She quit her job and sold her home to help.

"I don't have carpentry skills, but I can plant," said Pilie.

St. Paul's Homecoming Center

She combined her desire to help with her life-long dream to walk the Appalachian Trail and "Hike for KaTREEna"was born. For every mile traveled on the nearly 2,200 mile path, Monique pledged to plant a tree. Her charity raised the money and so far, the group has planted 6,500 trees.

These trees really get around. Take Connie for instance: she took a few to her day job.

Along with being one of Monique's dedicated volunteers, Connie Uddo is also director of a local recovery center.

Uddo helped people like Tim Parsons rebuild their homes with volunteer labor.

"There's nothing like putting together a shattered life," said Uddo.

And a sweet bay magnolia from Monique is the perfect accent for his front lawn.

"Katrina destroyed a city, but built a community," said Parsons.

A community rooted in a common belief.

"You don't plant a tree where there is no hope," said Pilie.

And with thousands of trees now in the ground, hope is flourishing.

  • Michelle Miller

    Michelle Miller is an award-winning CBS News correspondent based in New York, reporting for all CBS News broadcasts and platforms. Her work regularly appears on the "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley", "CBS This Morning" and "CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood". She joined CBS News in 2004.