Nuns decide to turn damaged convent into a flood-preventing urban wetland

After being hit by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the convent of the Sisters of St. Joseph in New Orleans was severely damaged by flooding. And while the nuns moved somewhere else to allow for repairs, a year later, lightning struck the roof and started a fire that devastated the convent beyond repair.

The sisters then started looking to use the property in a way that would help the people of New Orleans. Not long after, an architect came to the nuns with an idea – converting the 25 acres into a wetland that helps prevent flooding in nearby areas.

The project is called the Mirabeau Water Garden, and plans for the site include recreational areas, meadows that absorb stormwater, and retention ponds. When the city’s drainage system is overwhelmed, water will be diverted to the property and held there until it can be safely released.

“Healing, strengthening, restoring Earth was a major part of our decision-making, and that’s why this design resonated with our hearts right away,” says Sister Pat Bergen. So when the city breaks ground, it will turn what was once a major loss into a gain for the flood-prone city of New Orleans.

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