Travis Lux

Coastal Reporter

Travis is WWNO's coastal reporter. His reporting has covered a wide range of topics -- from science and health to arts and culture. His stories have aired on local public radio stations and national shows.

Before joining WWNO, Travis reported for Marfa Public Radio in Far West Texas, and for WRKF in Baton Rouge. He he studied Anthropology and Sociology at Rhodes College and radio production at the Transom Story Workshop. 

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Tegan Wendland / WWNO

This week on the Coastal News Roundup, we're talking about the recent floods.

Heavy rains flooded portions of New Orleans last weekend. In the days since, we've learned that there are mechanical problems with the city’s drainage equipment — not only with the pumps, but also with the generators that power them.

Tegan Wendland / WWNO

The Sewerage and Water Board generator that caught fire this week is back up and running.

 

There are five generators that power the city’s pumping system on the East Bank — all areas west of the Industrial Canal. Only two were working prior to Saturday’s floods.

 

Wednesday night, one of them caught fire and was rendered inoperable for more than 24 hours. That left the city even more vulnerable to flooding, and prompted two days of school closures. On Thursday both Governor John Bel Edwards and Mayor Mitch Landrieu signed emergency declarations as precautionary measures.

Tegan Wendland / WWNO

The city’s ability to pump water has been diminished once more after a Sewerage and Water Board power generator caught fire Wednesday night.

 

The new outage affects the East Bank of New Orleans — all areas west of the Industrial Canal. That includes neighborhoods like Lakeview, Mid City and Treme, which had already seen the worst of the city’s flooding this weekend.

LSU/LUMCON

The dead zone is an area in the Gulf of Mexico where the oxygen is so low that fish and shrimp can’t live.

 

Scientists say this year’s dead zone is 8,776 square miles now -- about the size of New Jersey. Over the last five years it’s averaged 5,543 square miles.

 

It’s caused largely by agricultural runoff from the Midwest, and brought downstream by the Mississippi River. That runoff is high in nitrates, from fertilizer, which causes algae to bloom. When the algae dies, it sucks oxygen out of the water.

Tegan Wendland / WWNO

A federal audit says FEMA should stop sending money to the City of New Orleans for repairing road and water-system damage sustained during hurricanes Katrina and Rita almost 12 years ago.

 

FEMA disagrees with the findings, and the city plans to press forward with repairs.

 

In order to get money from FEMA to repair its streets and sewer lines, city officials had to prove the damage was caused directly by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. After reviewing documents and consulting with engineers, FEMA agreed. It pledged to give the city $2.04 billion in December 2015.

Travis Lux / WWNO

More than 100 volunteers fanned out across City Park over the weekend for something called BioBlitz. It was an effort to document all the plants and critters that call the park home, and meant to help the park plan for the future.

 

Sean Augustine may be eight years old, but he knows how to prepare for a day in the woods. He’s got a big hat, multi-pocketed cargo pants, and boots. He’s also got a raincoat on hand because he doesn’t want anything to get in the way of the day’s mission.

Lauren Sullivan / Flicker/CC BY-SA 2.0

A new study shows Louisiana’s land loss has slowed down a little bit. But that’s still not necessarily good news.

 

It’s almost become a tired refrain here in Louisiana -- the state loses an average of about a football field of land every hour. Now it takes about 100 minutes, roughly an hour and a half for that much land to wash into the Gulf of Mexico.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (CC BY 2.0)

Louisiana isn’t the only place in the world trying to fight back the ocean. Much of the Netherlands is below sea level, and the Dutch are well-known for their water management expertise.

 

State officials in Louisiana are signing a formal agreement to tap into that knowledge.

 

Travis Lux / WWNO

Louisiana’s coast is disappearing for a few reasons: natural sinking of the land, saltwater intrusion, and sea level rise.

 

Now there’s another threat: a little tiny bug from the other side of the ocean. It’s killing plants and destroying marshes at the mouth of the river, worrying the state and the shipping industry.

 

Travis Lux / WWNO

The state has a coastal master plan to stave off land loss and each parish has it’s own plans for the coast.

 

In Terrebonne Parish, officials are looking for public buy-in. Earlier this week they invited people to the Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center for Coastal Day -- a science fair of sorts displaying all the coastal projects in their backyard.

 

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