14 years after Katrina and Louisiana is still losing its coastline

This year’s recognition show of Hurricane Katrina floats downriver to the disappearing wetlands of Louisiana’s coastline. Get it started and read on.

This is my fifth show recognizing the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and this year I chose to address the existential issue of whether our country is prepared to hold on to a critical part of its ecosystem and culture – through music (of course).

Perhaps I was affected by reading recently Mike Tidwell’s book “Bayou Farewell” where he details his experiences hitching rides through the bayous of southern Louisiana, working on shrimp and crab boats along the way and basically embedding himself in the Cajun and Vietnamese communities — two refugee populations who have found a home in the delta of the fourth longest river in the world. I found his culturally sensitive approach to an environmental book appealing but also heart breaking.

Tidwell’s book was written and released a few years before Hurricane Katrina but the specter of what a large hurricane could do to the increasingly barren coast runs throughout the book basically serving as a predictor of the damage that was caused by Katrina’s storm surge. Tidwell is also the founder and director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

One of the most telling stories from his book is when riding out to check crab traps with a local named Tim, he heard the story of how Tim, when he “was a kid” would land his boat by a tree on the bank of a canal dug out by Texaco. The now dead tree trunk stuck out of the water 50 feet from shore. The reference to being a kid stopped the author cold because it made the boat pilot “sound like an old man looking back on a long lifetime. In reality he’s seventeen, looking back maybe ten years. It’s happening that fast.”

Fast . . .At the cumulative rate of about 30 square miles a year. The good and sad part of this story is that unlike climate change, a solution to this problem doesn’t require worldwide buy in, but rather a commitment of resources to increase diversions of fresh water carrying much needed nutrients and sediment into the state’s coastal areas. For less than one-third of the annual cost of occupying Afghanistan, this problem could be largely licked.

The Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana has done the research, developed the plan, and has been advocating and actually doing things to move the issue forward. But it needs our support. Similarly, the Voice of the Wetlands, a nonprofit volunteer-based organization with the same goal, has been attempting to raise awareness, particularly through its annual music festival in October.

In telling this story, I play the music of Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Irma Thomas, Tab Benoit, Del Rey, Eric Lindell, Marcia Ball, Sonny Landreth, Helen Gillet, and many others. Thanks for tuning in and please consider subscribing. Cheers.