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…

3. Enter this URL: http://wwno.org/podcasts/70174/rss.xml

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Gonzales, Louisiana; August 2016
Jessica Rosgaard / WWNO

It’s been nearly six months since the historic flooding in southeast Louisiana. Since then, Congress has authorized $1.6 billion for the state to help people repair homes and businesses. But that’s well short of the estimated $8 billion in damage done. Wallis Watkins spoke with some flood survivors trying to navigate the recovery process.

About 15 people gathered for the Coastal Desk tour of the Port of New Orleans on February 10.
Jason Saul / WWNO

CLICK ON THE SLIDESHOW TO SEE THE IMAGES

Last week nearly 15 New Orleans Public Radio listeners joined our Coastal Desk reporters for a tour of the Port of New Orleans.

On February 10 we boarded The Roy S. Kelley, a large boat owned by the Port, and toured the operations along the Mississippi River -- from New Orleans Cold Storage adjacent to the Fly park Uptown, all the way to the Industrial Canal inlet separating the Bywater neighborhood from the Lower 9th Ward. Paul Matthews, the Community Affairs Manager for the Port of New Orleans, lead the tour and answered listeners' questions.

Wharton Digital Press

The Ostrich Paradox: Why We Under-Prepare For Disasters examines human behavior and disaster preparedness, trying to answer the question: why, with our ability to forsee and protect against natural catastrophes, do humans fail to protect ourselves and our communities from disaster? WWNO’s Jessica Rosgaard spoke to co-author Robert Meyer about how humans can overcome the psychological hurdles to disaster preparedness.

Jessica Rosgaard / WWNO

Governor John Bel Edwards is traveling to Washington, D.C. - his sixth trip since the August flooding in Louisiana. He’ll be meeting with lawmakers to request an additional $2 billion in flood relief.

So far, Congress has approved two installments of funding for the state at a total of $1.6 billion. But Governor Edwards says that is still short of what’s needed.

Last week, the Governor sent letters to both the Louisiana Congressional Delegation and President Trump describing the unmet needs of homeowners, renters and businesses.

Hebert family / WWNO

For many in south Louisiana flooding is a part of daily life. You buy flood insurance, plan ahead and have a place to stay if there’s a big hurricane. But the floods this summer in and around Baton Rouge took a lot of people by surprise. Many of them had moved away from the coast after previous storms, and never thought it would happen there.

Betsy Shepherd / Louisiana Public Radio Partnership

As part of our ongoing reporting on flood recovery in Louisiana, Betsy Shepherd set out to tell the story of Guidry Brangus Ranch, a family-owned cattle farm in rural Vermilion Parish. Struggling to recover after being submerged by floodwater last August, Shannon Guidry planned to sell his farm. But just a few weeks after the interview, another tragedy struck - and this agriculture recovery story took a turn that no one could have imagined.

Jessica Rosgaard / WWNO

The federal government has already allocated $1.6 billion to Louisiana to aid in recovery from the August flood. Today, the Restore Louisiana Task Force approved the Governor’s plan on how to spend it. 

A large majority of the federal recovery money -- $1.3 billion -- will be spent on home repairs.

The focus is on over 36-thousand homes that took on major damage and were not covered by flood insurance.

An illustration from the Draft 2017 Coastal Master Plan, showing how many residential structures may be eligible for voluntary buyouts in specific areas.
Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority

Under Louisiana’s new coastal "Master Plan", more than twenty-four hundred homes may be offered voluntary buyouts by the state. That’s because officials no longer believe these properties—more than a third of them on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain—can be protected from catastrophic storms and flooding.

Louisiana is losing its coast at a rapid rate because of rising sea levels, development and sinking marshland. Officials are trying to rebuild those marshes and the wetlands, but much of the coast can't be saved. This makes Louisiana's history an unwitting victim. As land disappears and the water creeps inland, ancient archaeology sites are washing away, too.

Richie Blink was born and raised in Plaquemines Parish, La. — way down south of New Orleans along the Mississippi River. Now he works for the National Wildlife Federation.

Mental Health, Post-Disaster

Dec 21, 2016
Della Hasselle / WWNO

Beyond the tangible needs - like housing, and infrastructure - there’s a mental health component to disaster recovery. Traumatic experiences carry an emotional and psychological cost, and many victims continue to struggle long after their homes have been rebuilt.

But as WWNO’s Della Hasselle reports, local charities are available - providing counseling and assistance to help people rebuild their lives, and emerge from trauma stronger.

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