This special multimedia feature — from The Weather Channel and New Orleans-based reporter Katy Reckdahl and photographer Kathleen Flynn — examines how and why the Louisiana coast is disappearing into the Gulf of Mexico, largely through the eyes of the people living there.
Because of a slow-moving disaster caused by sinking land, climate change and oil exploration, Louisiana's coastal families must choose between leaving their homes for higher ground or staying where generations of their families lived, on land so precarious the next hurricane could wash them away.
New Orleans' levee board is suing energy companies for damaging the Mississippi River delta by cutting canals through the marshland. The canals let in sea water, which kills marshes, eroding the city's protective buffer against storms. A map of the delta.
Credit Frank Relle
The canals have become tools for the local seafood and charter-fishing business, too. Dr. John Lopez of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation holds a crab trap pulled from a canal. A dormant natural-gas well is in the background.
Anyone following the development of the Master Plan for the Louisiana coast knows that the central part of the plan is also its most controversial: large scale river diversions, opening the levees on the sides of the Mississippi River south of New Orleans to let the silt-carrying Mississippi out into these sinking deltas to begin rebuilding them.
But not everyone’s happy with that, because restoring the deltas to their former state means changing things from the way they’ve been for almost 70 years.
Many states suffer from a shortage of water, but not Louisiana — we’ve got a surplus. Problem is, we don’t know what to do with it. And as our coastline diminishes each year, the urgency to make a decision is pivotal.
Experts have been brainstorming about Louisiana’s relationship with water, and they recently congregated at the second annual Anba Dlo symposium to share their thoughts with the public.
Officials aren't sure what's caused a 20-fold increase in oily material cleaned off the Louisiana coast.
Louisiana officials say they’re not sure why there’s been a surge of oily material washing up on the coastline three years after the BP oil spill. The amount is 20 times more than what was found over the same period last year.
The Coast Guard says more than a ton of oil has been discovered in recent days beneath the sand on Fourchon Beach as a result of Tropical Storm Karen.
Officials suspect the mat of oil had been hidden by sand before being uncovered by the effects of the storm, which lingered along the Gulf Coast a little over a week ago, and was discovered during cleanup efforts that began this weekend.
Hansel Harlan minces up nutria and feeds' em to the dogs as super healthy Marsh Dog biscuits, treats, and jerky. Arthur Matherne zips around the swamp on an airboat, occasionally with superstars and sometimes shooting alligators.