Leland Showers and Rose Clark had been thinking of moving away from New Orleans for a long time. Hurricane Katrina made the decision for them.

Showers, 35, and Clark, 32, along with their four children, moved to Grand Ledge in September of 2005 as part of a Federal Emergency Management Administration relocation program. A church in the Lansing suburb offered the family use of its parsonage for one year, and the children were enrolled in school by the third week of September.

“We definitely plan on staying,” Showers said. “We feel like we’ve landed in a nice, pleasant, peaceful neighborhood. Somewhere the kids can actually go outside and play.”

Showers said although the poor quality of schools in New Orleans played a role in the decision not to return, crime played an even larger role.

“The city is more violent than ever before,” he said. “Here, the kids can come and go, play with their friends, and we don’t worry all the time.”

Showers has found full-time employment at Meijer, while Clark works part-time for a party planning company. The children, two boys and two girls who range in age from 7 to 14, spent almost an entire academic year in their new Michigan schools last year.

“I think we moved here September 15 and they started school on September 19, so they didn’t miss too much,” Showers said. “The schools here are so much better than what they had. The classes aren’t nearly as crowded.”

Showers said it was typical to have 30 or more students in a class at the schools the children attended in New Orleans.

“The kids are doing much better in school,” Showers said. “It’s really a new learning experience for all of us.”