Coastal Desk

Southeast Louisiana is sinking under the waves faster than any coastal landscape in the world. With so much at stake for Louisiana and the nation, WWNO has made coastal news a priority.

Since mid-2014 our Coastal Desk reporting team has been producing frequent news reports and in-depth features covering coastal erosion and restoration; hurricane protection; offshore energy and other coastal businesses; wildlife and fisheries impacts; and coastal communities and culture.

Support for the Coastal Desk comes from the Walton Family Foundation, the Coypu Foundation, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, and local listeners.

Subscribe to the Coastal Desk as a podcast:

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2. Go to the File Menu, click on Subscribe to Podcast…

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Flood Recovery: Not-So-Rapid Rehousing

Aug 15, 2017
Molly Peterson

Federal aid helped pay for hotels for thousands of Louisianans after last year's flood. Until May, the short-term program help people find shelter, especially low-income renters. Now a state-managed program is still filling in the gaps, trying to give more permanent homes to families washed out last year — including a single mother in Baton Rouge.

Wallis Watkins

Denham Springs saw some of the worst damage in the August 2016 flood. As the rebuilding continues, the city is developing a long-term recovery plan — one designed by the people who live there. Denham Strong, the city's recovery planning group, gives residents an opportunity to advocate for what they want Denham Springs to look like years from now.

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.

Jessica Rosgaard / WWNO

Gov. John Bel Edwards toured flood damage in New Orleans Monday. Edwards and Mayor Mitch Landrieu spoke to business owners and residents in the Treme where cleanup is underway.

Windell Bean’s family has owned their home on St. Ann for 53 years. Other than Katrina, the house hasn’t flooded since 1978. That is until Saturday, when it took on 4 inches of water.

Nola.com/The Times-Picayune

On this week's installment of the Louisiana coastal roundup, WWNO radio's interim news director, Tegan Wendland, and NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune coastal reporter Mark Schleifstein talk about the largest low-oxygen dead zone in modern history along Louisiana's coast -- nearly 9,000 square miles, or as large as New Jersey.

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.

Wallis Watkins / WRKF

Just one week after school started last year, doors were closed as historic flooding damaged campuses across Livingston Parish. But when schools opened once again not all students came back, and that’s only added to the financial strain on the school system. 

Brett Duke / Nola.com|The Times-Picayune

Every Friday we sit down with coastal reporters at Nola.com/The Times-Picayune to recap the week's coastal news.

This week on the Coastal News Roundup, WWNO's Travis Lux chats with Nola.com/The Times-Picayune's Sara Sneath. They talk about a big, new model of the Mississippi River at LSU, then head to Vermillion Parish for a case study on what can happen in the absence of a comprehensive levee system.

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