retreat

Tegan Wendland / WWNO

As Louisiana’s coast continues to disappear, people are moving inland. The state says thousands may be forced to leave their homes -  but where will they go, and how will those places, known as ‘receiver communities,’ change?

For clues, we can look to St. Tammany Parish, where thousands moved after Hurricane Katrina.

It’s a typical Saturday at Mutt’s restaurant in Mandeville. Families laugh together over seafood and bread pudding.

Center for Progressive Reform

In coming years, rising seas and sinking land will force many to move away from the coast. Some communities are already doing so. New research from the Center for Progressive Reform, a Washington-based nonprofit, looks at how 17 communities - from Alaska to South Dakota - are pulling it off.

WWNO’s Tegan Wendland talked with study-author, Loyola University law professor, Rob Verchick.

Support for the Coastal Desk comes from the Walton Family Foundation, the Coypu Foundation, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, and local listeners.

Matt Hauer / Nature Climate Change

Rising seas and sinking land are forcing many along Louisiana’s coast to make hard decisions. Stay put, or move inland to safety. But it’s not just a problem here, coastal residents across the nation are facing the same challenges.

A study recently published in the journal Nature Climate Change predicts that millions will move inland in coming years.

WWNO's Tegan Wendland talked with Matt Hauer, a demographer at the University of Georgia, about how this will change life in coastal areas - and create new challenges for the communities where those people will move. 

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.

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.

Tegan Wendland / WWNO

Louisiana is investing millions of dollars to protect what wetlands are left along the coast. Also building diversions and barrier islands to protect people’s homes and livelihoods. But the truth is, ever since Katrina, many coastal towns have been shrinking faster, on their own.

Tegan Wendland / WWNO

Louisiana spends heavily on building wetlands and levees to protect its eroding coast. Over the next three years, the state plans to put nearly $300 million into land-building alone. But as the true picture of sea level rise comes into view, officials may need to explore a less popular option: retreat from the coast.


Tegan Wendland / WWNO

Sea level rise and land loss is affecting communities all over the world, not just in Louisiana. But Louisiana has one of the first communities that will be entirely resettled as a result: the Isle de Jean Charles.