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.

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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.

Tegan Wendland / WWNO

As Louisiana’s coast continues to wash away, small towns close to the water are more and more at risk. Lots of people have moved further inland. Yet the towns themselves not only remain, they often defiantly insist that they’re sticking around. WWNO’s Coastal Desk is exploring the idea of “retreat” - who’s thinking about it, and who’s not.

Jesse Hardman / WWNO

Thousands of Louisiana flood victims are still living in hotels as part of FEMAs Temporary Shelter Assistance program.

On the list of FEMA relief options, the hotel vouchers are meant as a short-term solution -- but four months later, it's still the only option for many people who can't return home.

Jessica Rosgaard / WWNO

Community meetings are scheduled in seven parishes across Louisiana through December 20th.

Residents will have an opportunity to review proposed flood recovery programs, and talk to officials in charge of coordinating the recovery efforts.

Hosted by the Louisiana Office of Community Development, the meetings are part of a public comment period for the state’s action plan, which includes assistance programs for homeowners, renters, and small businesses.

Public meetings are scheduled as follows:

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