Coastal Desk

Ryan Kailath / WWNO

Tourism has long been a part of the culture of New Orleans, but more people are visiting the state’s swamps and bayous than ever before.

In Blind River, one local woman’s expression of faith has become an attraction - one that her family keeps going.

David Barbeau and Isaac Toups of Toups Meatery
Toups Meatery

Isaac Toups was born and raised in Rayne, La., outside of Lafayette. He garnered national fame this year when he made it to the second-to-last round on the reality cooking show Top Chef.

 


A section of the Big Branch Wildlife Refuge smolders.
Ryan Kailath / WWNO

On a clear spring afternoon recently, a massive column of smoke rose up near Lacombe, on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. People reported seeing it from across the water. Down below, a fire was raging.

Bob Marshall / The Lens

The recent outbreak of the Zika virus has New Orleans on edge. The Gulf Coast is considered the most vulnerable part of the U.S. Mayor Mitch Landrieu has asked Congress for money to fight Zika, as the city continues local efforts to understand the mosquito-borne disease.

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Classroom training equipment in the Oil & Gas Production Technology Department at Bossier Parish Community College. The BPCC program has seen its enrollment down by more than 40% in the current oil downturn.
Ryan Kailath

 


Derrick Hadley was born to work in the oil field — almost literally. His father named him after an oil rig, spelling and all.

Tegan Wendland / WWNO

Even as the price of oil drops, and offshore drilling slows down, huge amounts of crude oil keep flowing into Louisiana’s oil ports. The biggest is LOOP, the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port. It’s a major pass-through point for a lot of U.S. crude. But instead of heading out to refineries, oil is being stockpiled at LOOP.

Tegan Wendland / WWNO

The oil and gas downturn has resulted in a loss of about 12,000 jobs across Louisiana over the past year. Many of those jobs are concentrated in smaller metropolitan areas, like the Cajun city of Lafayette, which has lost the most. The city that once boomed as a result of oil and gas activity is now struggling to not go bust.

Patrick Kirton in the film "Broken," which he also directed. Kirton turned to the offshore oil and gas industry after 15 years in Hollywood.
Patrick Kirton

In many ways, Patrick Kirton is a typical offshore worker. He grew up in Shreveport; his dad was in the industry; his older brother just retired from BP. But every now and then, out on a rig in the Gulf of Mexico together, his buddies would notice something. And they’d ask him “Hey. Did I see you in a movie?”

Tegan Wendland / WWNO

A sudden drop in oil prices last year has brought huge challenges to the state of Louisiana — more than 10,000 layoffs in the oil and gas sector and a $400 million hit to the state budget. Long known for its “working coast” — represented by shipping, fishing and industry in south Louisiana and along the Mississippi River — the downturn brings with it something of an identity crisis.

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