Southeastern Louisiana is preparing for a large-scale exodus after Hurricane Ida. The hurricane has killed at least 13 people in the state and hundreds of thousands of people have no access to electricity, water and other basic services.
Although preliminary estimates are rough, experts say that the storm may have forced tens of thousands of people from Ada’s four hardest-hit dioceses to leave their homes: Laforche, Jefferson, Plaquemine, and Trebonne.
Most of Ada’s damage was concentrated below New Orleans, where the wind was strong, but the flooding was relatively mild. But experts say there are potential similarities between what is happening now and what happened after Hurricane Katrina destroyed Big Easy in 2005.
According to the Louisiana Department of Health, after Hurricane Katrina swept New Orleans, more than 250,000 residents left the city, causing approximately 900 deaths in Orleans and St. Bernard Parish.Other estimates make the death toll much higher, and there are Small consensus In official statistics.
Experts say that if a similar proportion of people are displaced by Ada, the permanent loss could exceed 130,000, most of which come from rural areas and small cities. But displacement may extend to the New Orleans metropolitan area, especially the northern part of Jefferson Parish along the Mississippi River.
“There is no doubt that the number of these external dioceses will decline. The question is how fast the number and speed,” Jesse Keenan, an associate professor at the Tulane School of Architecture and an expert on climate migration, said in a telephone interview. “Many people simply don’t have the resources to come back, and there are no resources at the parish level. There are long-term financial implications for the school system, water and sewer systems, and everything else.
“When we were hit by one of these big storms, we lost much more than people,” Keenan said. “We lost a little soul.”
The Lost Soul from Ada is one of America’s most isolated and culturally unique people. They include oil and gas artisans, local fishermen and farmers, small business owners, and thousands of indigenous people, including members of the 19,000 Houma tribe and other indigenous communities.
“This is one of the biggest storms hitting the coast of Louisiana. You know, all of us live on the Gulf Coast,” Houma chief August Creppel told NPR over the weekend. “Some of them are fishermen and the like. We are a nationally recognized tribe and have not been recognized by the federal government, so we don’t have any national privileges or anything. Anything we want or need, we have to work hard to get it ourselves. “
As in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, experts say that the reorientation of the population in southeastern Louisiana will provide a case study of climate migration—the permanent migration of established populations from areas where the impact of climate change has caused unsustainable living conditions.
Demographers and adaptation experts say that tens of millions of U.S. residents may be displaced in the next few decades as worsening disasters and other climatic stressors push people away from coastlines, floodplains, heat islands, and wildfire areas.
Richard Campanella, associate dean of research at the School of Architecture at Tulane University, said that the hurricane-damaged parishes in southern New Orleans have previously recovered from the storm because they “are based on the local economy and are not considered Is portable”. With residents, owners and some businesses moving inland, the situation is not so real now.
He added that the new wave of displacement from Ada is certain because “the situation in many areas is almost uninhabitable.”
For those determined to return, the living conditions of post-Aida will depend on several factors, including the speed at which basic services such as electricity and water are restored. Entergy Corp., which supplies electricity to Ida’s destroyed parish, said that more than 450,000 customers were still out of power yesterday, including almost all customers in the southern parish of New Orleans.
The utility company stated that it expects to restore operations in the dioceses of Jefferson, Plaquemine, Laforche, and Trebonne by September 29, one month after Ida made landfall on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. electricity. Some residents may not be able to wait that long, especially those who have lost their livelihoods, and their properties are affected by bad weather conditions, which are part of daily life in the swamp.
Keenan said the area will be temporarily maintained by rescue and recovery workers, but the long-term prospects do not look optimistic. “People will take the opportunity to flood in from Texas, clear the trees in your yard and restore your electricity, but they won’t stay for long,” he said. “When there are a million jobs that don’t need to live in a hurricane zone, why do they do it? The bottom line of these rural parishes is’good luck’.”
In small fishing communities such as Dulac, the prospects for reconstruction are bleak. The enclave is located 17 miles south of Houma in the parish of Terrebonne and its population has been reduced from 1,500 to 1,200 since 2010. Campanella said. “Ada is probably the last chapter of that story. “
But as the lowest parish hollows out, some nearby areas may feel the post-Aida surge. For example, the dioceses of Orleans and St. Bernard have flourished since the late 2010s, as memories of Hurricane Katrina have faded and their perception of the risk of destruction has diminished-the Army Corps of Engineers has spent $14 billion on hurricane protection and protection in New Orleans. Flood protection and fortification contribute to this growth system.
After Hurricane Katrina, the population of the Diocese of Orleans decreased from 485,000 to 230,000. However, according to the Census Bureau, in the following 15 years, the dioceses, including the city of New Orleans, recovered 80% of their losses, reaching 390,000 in 2020.
Campanella, who arrived in Uptown New Orleans on Friday, said new and existing residents are increasingly confident about the risk of climate impact, partly because of the city’s new dams.
“This is an ancient city, and it usually goes the wrong way in the way these things develop, but it’s actually doing pretty well,” he said.
When asked how Ida will affect residents’ calculations of future risks, Campanella said that at least it may be necessary to breathe a sigh of relief for now.
“The term’false security’ was disgusting 15 years ago, but this time I no longer use it,” he said. “Many people are making personalized decisions about leaving. But American taxpayers spent nearly $14.5 billion on this storm risk reduction system, which should bring dividends.”
forward from Electronics News With permission from POLITICO, LLC. Copyright 2021. E&E News provides important news for energy and environmental professionals.