Today is August 29, 2014. Nine years ago, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf coast, changing New Orleans and the region forever. There is much to reflect on as we remember Katrina and her aftermath. Before Katrina, the land loss issue in southern Louisiana was written off by many as a wildlife, fisheries and habitat issue. After Katrina, the importance of robust delta is recognized as a necessary part of the storm protection system.
Nine years later, we are still tackling the complexity of coastal restoration to protect ourselves and wildlife. The latest tool, Losing Ground underscores what’s at stake. Losing Ground is an interactive visualization of land loss in the past several decades released by The Lens and ProPublica. This accessible tool makes it easy for anyone to see marsh land disappear at certain locations as time slides on.
In a conversation discussing Losing Ground, Bob Marshall (The Lens) said, “Katrina is listed as the cause of some 218 square miles of land loss, much of that east of the river. In a healthy delta, without levees, storms actually build land by moving millions of tons of sediments from offshore across the wetlands. Today, every hurricane is a disaster.”
On the anniversary of Katrina many people are asking, “are we ready for the next big storm”.In truth, with exacerbated sinking of our wetlands, the question is, “are we ready for any storm?” For the future of wildlife, fisheries and habitat, but also for the safety of people living in southern Louisiana, we need to reconnect the river with the wetlands.