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Climate Change

Louisiana Hit By 3 Deadly Hurricanes This Season — Reflections While Riding Out Delta

Louisiana and the rest of the Gulf Coast face tropical storms and potentially hurricanes every year. Throughout my life, I’ve been really lucky. I was living in Shreveport and we were missed by Katrina. The first major storm I rode out was Rita.

Louisiana and the rest of the Gulf Coast face tropical storms and potentially hurricanes every year. Throughout my life, I’ve been really lucky. I was living in Shreveport and we were missed by Katrina. The first major storm I rode out was Rita. I slept in the bathtub with a bunch of towels over me as the storm raged on. Fortunately, I was in an area that didn’t lose power and had minimal damage. I lucked out with Harvey in Houston. My ex and I were in the process of moving across the country and lost everything we didn’t take on our first trip, but we were on the East Coast when our apartment was underwater.

However, 2020 takes the cake. Louisiana has had to brace itself six times this year, a year which has produced so many tropical systems that they had to move into the Greek alphabet for naming these storms. During Laura, the winds raged on for around 9 or so hours, but the raging of Laura’s winds was silent in comparison to Delta’s winds. During Delta, I felt as if the winds were beating up my house.

My entire duplex was shaking. The building doesn’t have a foundation — it’s raised a few feet off the ground in typical Louisiana fashion. It’s also a shotgun, meaning that you can see straight thru the front door. This house was designed around 100 or so years ago, before home air conditioning, and airflow was important. This really helped once the power went off. Entergy told us that it would be 3 to 7 days before the lights came back on. 3 to 7 days.

Many of my neighbors have weathered storms — such as Rita, Katrina, Dennis, and Isaac — and told me that the winds of Delta were more intense than they should have been. These winds were tropical depression strength, but they were loud and intense. It literally sounded like an angry tea kettle that was haunted by a ghost was beating up on my house. Transformers were exploding and I even got one on video while trying to capture the sound of the wind.

A few of my neighbors were riding out the storm with me and the kitties (we rescued a new kitten just a few days ago that was covered in glue and possibly used for bait in dogfighting) and one of them was bold enough to run after a flying garbage can, secure it, and pick up the trash — in the middle of the storm.

As I filmed the video of the transformer exploding, our power went out, and it stayed out for a day. I’m grateful that Entergy was able to get our power back on faster than the 3 to 7 days that they had projected. One of the lines was tangled with trees, and there were downed lines all over our neighborhood.

The Significance Of 3 Deadly Hurricanes Hitting The Same Area In One Season

After Hurricane Laura stormed through Lake Charles back in August, residents had to prepare for part two: Hurricane Delta. The odds of this happening are pretty low, but as with lightning striking twice, it happened. This season has been extreme. The National Hurricane Center exhausted its prepared list of 21 names and had to use letters from the Greek alphabet. Delta was the fourth storm on that new list, and the season isn’t over until the end of October. Here in Baton Rouge, the Comite River flooded several homes in that part of the city — something it hasn’t done since the 2016 flooding event.

A month ago, we were trying to raise awareness about Lake Charles and the aftermath that many in the mainstream media seemed to have forgotten. In a sad twist of ironic fate, Hurricane Delta helped raise that awareness. These storms have devastated communities all across south Louisiana and parts of Texas, as well as other areas of the Gulf. And the hurricanes are going to get worse. Eventually, as climate change ramps up the production of hurricanes and other disasters, people will have to move.

I spoke to a friend about this last night. He said that we’ll have to move one day — we’ll have no choice. That one day is already here for some Native American tribes in Louisiana. In 2016, Isle de Jean Charles lost 98% of its land to rising sea levels, and most of its population had to relocate. The population, many among the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw tribe, was awarded $52 million in resettlement funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which went toward helping 400 tribe members relocate to a new plot inland.

Future of the Gulf Coast?

With hurricanes and climate change pummeling the Gulf Coast, we will probably have to relocate. Baton Rouge, my city, is 100 miles away from the coast, but this could change in the next 100 years. Tuba Ozkan-Haller mused in a 2018 NOLA.com article, “How much flooding are people willing to put up with?” Ozkan-Haller, a professor of oceanography and civil engineering at Oregon State University, wrote a report — a study released by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine — that sought to understand the changes, especially those caused by global warming, that the Gulf Coast could face in the coming 50–200 years. “How many days or weeks of flooding must occur before a person decides to move?” she asked.

The study sought answers to these questions:

  • How will coastal land and ecosystems along the Gulf respond to natural and human-induced rapid changes in conditions, especially in light of an expected acceleration in sea level rise fueled by global warming?
  • How will coastal communities and jobs be impacted by the changes?
  • How can new knowledge about near-term change — within the next 10 to 50 years — and long-term change — between 50 and 200 years — be used to help stakeholders make decisions at the local, state, and regional level, and how will people respond to the use of that new science?

I know that one day I probably will end up moving back to my hometown of Shreveport. I love Baton Rouge and love living here, but with the intensity of climate change, moving might be necessary one day. However, one can’t just uproot and move sometimes, or it is very difficult.

One key reason why I don’t want to move has to do with my five years of marriage. My ex had us moving from place to place. Today, I’ve lived in my apartment for two years since my ex left and I’ve been more stable than ever before. I haven’t had to move, and I really don’t want to. Everyone has a unique situation. Many grew up on the coast. It’s their home, their roots are here, and they don’t want to leave. Their family legacies are here.

Losing your home — that connection to a part of your identity — is traumatic for many. I think that having spent most of my entire life homeless (from childhood and into adulthood) I grew numb to that sense of loss and only experienced that numbness subsiding once I finally found a place I could feel at home at. That place for me is Baton Rouge. Others have their own connections, deep connections sometimes. But growing hurricanes will push more and more to give up and move on. A recent news clip from Lake Charles indicates that many people there have hit that point after 3 difficult hurricanes in 2020:

How does one quantify these costs? How does one quantify the loss? At what point do we realize that strong climate action is worth much more than it costs?

Featured image of a transformer exploding during Hurricane Delta by Johnna Crider.

 
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Written By

Johnna owns less than one share of $TSLA currently and supports Tesla's mission. She also gardens, collects interesting minerals and can be found on TikTok

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