Louisiana’s Fraying Coast

Louisiana is experiencing the highest rate of coastal erosion in America, losing about one hundred yards of land every thirty minutes- land loss the size of a football field every half-hour. This project represents a long-term investigation of environmental changes in wetlands geography and population in Southern Louisiana, due to both human and natural activity.

In addition to global sea level rise, and pollution, in this century alone, a dozen major storms, including Katrina and Rita in 2005, and Gustav in 2008, drastically changed the geography of Louisiana’s coast. On August 29th, 2021 Hurricane Ida caused catastrophic wind damage and flooding in the area. following Port Fourchon landfall, it rendered towns of Grand Isle and Golden Meadow nearly uninhabitable.

People of Louisiana are closely defined by the landscape they inhabit. Unfortunately, this fascinating correlation between people and geography is under a dire threat of vanishing simply because the land they occupy is physically retreating. Many of South Louisiana’s communities, including Indigenous Americans, Cajuns, and Asian Americans are affected by loss of natural resources, economic impact, and direct loss of property. Every year, small local communities gradually sink into the wetlands. One of such places, Isle de Jean Charles, is a historical home of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw people. In the past 60 years the community lost over 98 percent of their land due to rising sea levels. In 2016, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development allotted 50 million USD for community resettlement. Many choose to remain on the land they occupied since 1830s.

This is a story of challenges and adaptations. This project layers cultural documentary and environmental concerns by presenting Louisiana’s wetland issues in context of our global cultural-environmental situation. This subject is a proverbial “canary in the mine” for problems affecting the entire planet.

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Last Camp, Isle Dernières