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Oaks Felled by Katrina Get New Life at Sea

Sandra Lobrano had named this tree Bienvillle, after one of the explorers of the Gulf Coast. It was perhaps 400 years old.
Noah Adams, NPR
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Sandra Lobrano had named this tree Bienvillle, after one of the explorers of the Gulf Coast. It was perhaps 400 years old.
Live oak is dense and resistant to rot and insects. The wood is not good for much -- but it's great for shipbuilding.
Noah Adams, NPR /
/
Live oak is dense and resistant to rot and insects. The wood is not good for much -- but it's great for shipbuilding.

Hurricane Katrina produced many downed live oak trees, but those losses have become a gain for Connecticut's Mystic Seaport.

Live oak wood is invaluable for ship restoration. A whaling vessel built in 1841, the Charles W. Morgan, will be an immediate beneficiary.

For many decades now, the Morgan has been among the dockside exhibits at Mystic. The museum intends to rebuild the ship, and will take her out of the water next year to get started.

Some of the wood came from the yard of Chuck Lobrano and his wife, Sandra. When Lobrano's biggest tree went down in the storm, the doctor in Long Beach, Miss., offered it to Mystic.

Lobrano had once toured the USS Constitution in Boston -- the 1798 frigate known as "Old Ironsides" -- and knew live oak was once favored for shipbuilding.

Mystic Seaport trucked more than 200 tons of wood from the Mississippi coast to Connecticut. The supply was a big help for the Morgan, and for smaller shipyards as well. The Lobrano family finds satisfaction in that, and in the warmth left behind -- they kept some of the tree's wood for making fires.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Noah Adams
Noah Adams, long-time co-host of NPR's All Things Considered, brings more than three decades of radio experience to his current job as a contributing correspondent for NPR's National Desk., focusing on the low-wage workforce, farm issues, and the Katrina aftermath. Now based in Ohio, he travels extensively for his reporting assignments, a position he's held since 2003.
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