Thanksgiving is traditionally a big volunteer day with my non-profit. This year we're dedicating the week to helping out our neighbors in Chauvin, LA.
The Bayou communities tend to go fairly unnoticed by most of the world. The Red Cross, FEMA and other big-name disaster folks don't tend to travel that far south. So when these communities get railed on by Hurricanes every few years, they don't expect to get any help picking up the pieces.
These folks have a very unique culture. They've lived in the Bayous of Louisiana for generations, and most don't plan on leaving until their yards erode and their houses fall into the Gulf.
The Louisiana Coast loses a football field worth of land to erosion - every thirty minutes.
Louisiana is literally disappearing into the ocean.
The wetlands along the coast naturally compact themselves as heavy mud sinks to the bottom. The Mississippi River used to flood every spring - which would naturally replenish the coastline with silt and nutrients that fed the marsh. Communities all up and down the River have spent the last century building levees to keep the River from flooding. Now all of the silt that would typically replenish the coast, is deposited into the Gulf of Mexico, and Louisiana is eroding off the map.
Why should anyone care about the Louisiana Coast? Well for starters: A quarter of US natural gas production originates, is transported through, or is processed in LA coastal wetlands. And Louisiana fisherman provide 25-35% of the nation's total catch. Also, a whole host of rare birds nest in the Wetlands, and several indiginous Indian tribes still call the Bayous home.
Having said all that, this erosion could be prevented and the coastline somewhat restored, by the instillation of pipelines that would divert silt from the Mississippi River back to the Coastlines... But nobody's putting up the money.
Where was I going with all of this...
THANKSGIVING! The Bayous got slammed by Hurricanes Ike and Gustav, and aren't getting much (or any) assistance from the typical disaster response folks.
We're going down to Chauvin the week of Thanksgiving to help re-roof 15 homes. We'll be there from Nov. 22 - Nov 26th.
Then on Nov. 27th - We're having a potluck Thanksgiving Dinner in New Orleans!
If you don't have plans already - EVERYONE is invited to come on down and volunteer in some very appreciative communities.
Don't forget about Louisiana! New Orleans and the Bayous still need help. After Katrina, everyone was predicting a 15-25 year recovery. Now just 3 years out, people want to know why it's not fixed already. As a nation, our attention span tends to be short...