Five years after Hurricane Katrina, has need for coastal restoration resonated?
August 29 marked the five-year
Hurricane Katrina Anniversary, just one of many blows to Louisiana over the past few years, including Hurricane Rita in 2005, Hurricane Ike in 2008 and one of the largest oil disasters in history this summer. It’s more clear than ever that restoring coastal Louisiana wetlands will not only repair a nursery for hundreds of species of fish and wildlife, but also better prepare the region for future disasters.
Unless we act, loss of wetlands will accelerate
Since the 1930s, more than a million acres of Louisiana wetlands—an area larger than the state of Delaware—have sunk underwater. Louisiana was also the hardest-hit Gulf state by the BP oil spill. The massive spread of oil and chemical dispersants in the Gulf is likely to accelerate the loss of coastal wetlands, leaving an already-weakened ecosystem even more vulnerable to storms, as well as to oil spills and other man-made assaults.
Without restoration, each new disaster will sow the seeds of more destruction —of wetlands, wildlife and communities—and Louisiana’s coastal region will remain on a path to eventual destruction.
The path to restoring the Mississippi River Delta begins with reestablishing the river’s long-severed connection to the delta. By reconnecting the river and its sediment to the wetlands, land can literally be reborn.
The Senate can help recovery and restoration in Louisiana
President Obama repeatedly has promised that his administration will hold BP accountable for recovery and restoration in the Gulf to make it even better than it was before this catastrophe. Now that the Katrina anniversary has just passed and recovering from the BP oil disaster remains high on the national agenda, it’s critical that the Senate help make this promise a reality by quickly dedicating funding from oil spill penalties to Gulf Coast restoration.
Otherwise, we risk losing critical momentum, leaving Louisiana even further in peril, and putting the communities, economies and natural systems of the region at further risk.
Photo Credit: Yuki Kokubo
National Audubon Society welcomes new President
The National Audubon Society welcomes veteran newspaper editor David Yarnold as its new President and Chief Executive Officer. A passionate conservationist, David served as Executive Director of the Environmental Defense Fund and was a editor at the Pulitzer Prize-winning San Jose Mercury News.
Under David's leadership, the San Jose Mercury News was consistently ranked as one of America’s 10 Best Newspapers and called, “America’s Boldest Newspaper” by a panel of international judges. During his tenure at the San Jose Mercury News, the paper was widely recognized for its commitment to diversity and for its in-depth coverage of technology. In addition to being editor of the afternoon editionof the paper when the staff won the Pulitzer for General News coverage in 1989, David also was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists for editorial writing in 2005.
David will begin a nationwide tour of Audubon offices and sanctuaries starting in Washington D.C. on September 13-14. His itinerary includes visiting New Orleans and the Louisiana Coast where Audubon was the first non-profit organization to deploy volunteers in response to the Gulf oil disaster, and where the long-term plan includes restoration of an ecosystem that has lost more than 2,300 square miles of wetlands—an area larger than the state of Delaware—since the 1930s.
Photo Credit: Kim Hubbard of Audubon Magazine
September is National Preparedness Month
Hazardous weather events and other natural disasters occur throughout the year, but September is a particularly dangerous month for residents of the Gulf Coast because the peak season for Atlantic Basin hurricane formation occurs in late summer and early autumn.
With this in mind, the Ad Council, Citizen Corps, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA's) Ready Campaign are sponsoring National Preparedness Month (NPM) during September. The goal of this 30-day campaign is to encourage homeowners, business managers, and local officials to prepare for natural and technological disasters in their communities.
Natural Disasters, National Problems
Every year, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, landslides, tsunamis, volcanoes and wildfires cause hundreds of deaths across the United States. Floods alone account for more than three-quarters of all federally-declared disasters, according to FEMA,
These facts aren't that surprising since half of all Americans live within 50 miles of a coast, or considering the fact that many of America's largest inland cities, such as Nashville and Pittsburgh, lie in river valleys prone to seasonal flooding. For this reason, counties and parishes located near coastlines and major rivers account for a significant proportion of annual disaster declarations by the federal government.
Given the nationwide scope of this issue, initiatives such as storm surge protection and emergency flood preparedness should be vitally important to all Americans. Unfortunately, all too often they are forgotten until an unexpected disaster forces people to confront these issues head on. Simple steps, such as setting up home emergency kits before calamity strikes, could reduce injury tolls during emergencies and save lives.
Local benefits for storm preparedness
Hurricane Katrina devastated Louisiana five years ago. Just weeks later Hurricane Rita also hammered the state.
Since hurricanes also can cause floods and trigger tornadoes, they can be particularly devastating for communities that are ill-prepared for one or all of these potential disasters. That’s why emergency preparedness is so important to protect people in hurricane-prone areas, such as coastal Louisiana.
If your organization or business would like to participate in National Preparedness Month, register at http://ready.adcouncil.org.
Read more on Environmental Defense Fund's blog Restoration and Resilience.
Meet Angelina Freeman
Angelina Freeman is a scientist for the Coastal Louisiana Project at Environmental Defense Fund. Her work includes securing restoration of the natural functioning of the Lower Mississippi River system for wetland restoration and hurricane protection.
She has experience in coastal geology and geophysics, coastal processes, remote sensing and GIS applications, image and spatial analysis, numerical modeling of sediment transport, and coastal hydrodynamics.
Angelina earned a Ph.D. in Oceanography and Coastal Sciences from Louisiana State University, a Master’s degree in Acoustics from Pennsylvania State University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from Eckerd College.
Photo Credit: Yuki Kokubo