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

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.

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.

The Uncertain Future Of Flood Insurance

Jul 25, 2017
orientalizing/via Flickr (Creative Commons 2.0)

Since last August, the popularity of flood insurance has again surged in Louisiana, but the future of the debt-laden National Flood Insurance Program is uncertain. Since 2005, the program has racked up $24.6 billion in liability to the U.S. Treasury, mostly due to claims after Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy, and the Great Louisiana Flood of 2016. That’s just one way that Louisiana’s past is influencing the federal program’s future.

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.

 

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