UNO Katrina Summit: Coastal LA too exposed 10 years later

UNO Katrina Summit: Coastal LA too exposed 10 years later

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Nearly ten years after Hurricane Katrina, a UNO summit team says much more is needed to create a unified flood protection plan for the Louisiana coast.

Whole communities have lost a large number of people, and in many areas, like New Orleans, thousands never returned.

Since Katrina, New Orleans has $14 billion dollars in new levees, but the rest of the region lags behind.

"There are communities that are facing right now concrete impacts on their life and I don't think we'll get there fast enough for them," said hazard mitigation specialist Alessandra Jerolleman, Sr.

Dozens of coastal communities, like Isle de Jean Charles, outside flood protection are losing land and people in a post storm population shift that can only be compared to the dust bowl population loss of the great depression.

"There are no provisions to address those communities," said Kristina Peterson, with UNO Urban Studies.

Though the levee system is improved, the experts say more coastal restoration is needed to protect areas outside levees that are now directly exposed to the Gulf.

"It is the fastest disappearing delta in the world. Nobody's losing land as quickly as we are," Peterson said.

The panel at UNO said 10 years after Katrina, less than 10% of the money identified for coastal restoration has been spent, and time is slipping away.

"The long term plan does not address what's going to happen to coastal communities outside hurricane protection," Jerolleman said.

"It's very complex, complex ecological processes," said Renia Ehrenfeucht, PhD, with UNO Urban Studies.

A lot of experts had a lot to say about how we're performing as a region to prepare for the next storm, but for certain individuals the struggle very much continues.

"I'm putting money onto money, and constantly losing," New Orleanian Edward Collins said.

A decade later..Collins still fights his insurance company, trying to get back into his home.

"I took it to the civil court. The insurance company brought it to the federal court," Collins said.

Though problems persist, there is hope.

"Some neighborhoods are stronger, but in others we see high poverty," Ehrenfeucht said.

"I'm optimistic when I've seen all the groups come together with innovation to try and solve this problem," Jerolleman said.

But emergency managers said much more needs to be done, especially in unprotected, low-lying communities most at risk.

UNO is hosting more events to commemorate the Katrina anniversary, including one which looks at historic preservation since the storm, on April 16th.

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