Hurricanes: Recovery

Louisiana Hurricane Resources

Sea Grant Initiatives Archive: Recovery

Sea Grant Education wrote a summary narrative for a proposed NOAA Community Based Restoration project which would provide start up money for two hurricane-impacted schools; the Christian Brothers School in New Orleans City Park and the St. Bernard Unified School. The funding would be used to develop green houses on their campuses for service learning, horticulture, Coastal Roots and restoration efforts.

Louisiana Sea Grant’s oyster hatchery on Grand Isle has been instrumental in the development of new science and has been an important component in Gulf Oyster Industry Program (GOIP) research. However, it was obliterated by Hurricane Katrina. LSG research professor John Supan is working with federal and state officials, as well as industry proponents, to reconstruct the hatchery.

Marine Extension agent Mark Schexnayder offered his assistance in relocating the displaced 17th Street commercial fishing fleet after they needed to move out of a temporary harbor at the Bonnabel Boat launch. No property could be found on the south shore, so the fleet settled at the undeveloped Bucktown Marina site.

LSG Extension Agent Rusty Gaude’ coordinated with the parish governments of St. Bernard and Plaquemines and the USCG to establish a list of eligible and approved waterways to be cleared by USCG contractors. The waterways were commercially utilized by the fishing community and were known to have several submerged obstructions.

The Louisiana Restoration Science Community prepared a position paper which recommended to the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Coastal Restoration and Conservation that existing freshwater diversion structures be used during Spring 2006 to assist with mitigation of future hurricane damage to local marshes. Sea Grant wetlands and coastal resources professor Rex Caffey is the lead author of the paper.

Marine Extension agent Thomas Hymel took the initiative to create storm surge models. These models have resulted in an educational opportunity to show residents how much damage could have occurred if the storm surge from Hurricane Rita was greater and what might happen in future storms. Because of these models, coastal parish residents and leaders are taking the potential dangers more seriously.

Volunteers in Calcasieu and Cameron parishes assisted in the Marine Debris Marking and Mapping Project on Calcasieu Lake, Moss Lake and West Cove. Hurricane Rita scattered residential, industrial and vegetative debris throughout the estuary system, creating a hazard for recreational and commercial boaters, as well as their vessels and gear. In an attempt to make the lake safer, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Coast Survey, Louisiana Sea Grant, Coastal Conservation Association (CCA), Lake Charles Power Squadron, LSU AgCenter, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Lake Charles Pilots partnered with volunteers in the summer of 2006 to locate, mark and map as much of this marine debris as possible. (Summer 2006)

More than 500 local leaders, business owners and citizens participated in programs about how the next hurricane storm surge could affect Iberia, Vermilion and St. Mary parishes. Talks and exhibits concerning hurricane vulnerability, flood zones, storm surge models and how the surge from Hurricane Rita washed over each parish – prepared by Louisiana Sea Grant, the Louisiana State University AgCenter, LSU Hurricane Center and LSU Department of Geography and Anthropology – were presented this summer in community libraries, as well as to local officials and civic organizations. The exhibits, organized by LSG Marine Extension agent Thomas Hymel, remained on display in the libraries through the end of September 2006. (Summer 2006)

LSG Legal developed a series of information sheets and narrated PowerPoint presentations to help those affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita navigate Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) programs and related legal issues during the rebuilding process. The information sheets are available at parish offices throughout south Louisiana and also online with the presentations at www.laseagrant.org and www.lsu.edu/sglegal. The information sheets answer questions about where and how to rebuild, Louisiana’s building codes, the National Flood Insurance Program and other reconstruction matters. (Spring 2006)

LSG’s ongoing assessment of damages to the state’s fisheries by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita are helping fishermen, state and local government in their federal aid requests. Rex Caffey, a resource economist with Louisiana Sea Grant, and LSG fisheries economist Hamady Diop partnered on the project. Assessments will continue for some time because of the widespread devastation from both storms. As of early summer 2006, the state was still estimating damages to be between $270 million and $580 million for commercial fisheries alone. Using the Caffey and Diop assessments, the Louisiana Fishing Community Recovery Coalition (LFCRC), of which Louisiana Sea Grant is a founding partner, developed aid requests and determined financial assistance allocation formulas. Their work also was used in a $50 million Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) application, and in an additional $150 million federal aid request. (2005-2006)

A documentary chronicling the response of LSG Marine Extension agents to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita has been completed and is available for online. Sister Storms: A Louisiana Sea Grant Response explores the professional and personal challenges three extension agents faced immediately following the storms and continue to face during the rebuilding process. Sister Storms also is available on DVD.

Marine Extension agent Mark Schexnayder, along with other Sea Grant personnel, assisted New Orleans Mosquito Control (NOMC) in acquiring several truckloads of mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis). With more than 6,000 abandoned swimming pools following Hurricane Katrina, NOMC needed a way to control the flying insects during the summer of 2006. The agency’s plan was to stock abandoned pools with the mosquito-eating fish. (Summer 2006)

Posters focused on LSG’s hurricane recovery Web site and LSG Legal’s FEMA regulations fact sheets were displayed at the International City Management Association (ICMA) conference in New Orleans May 15-17, 2006. (Spring 2006)

LSG Marine Extension personnel, recognizing the economic importance of quickly returning commercial fishing boats to the water and clearing waterways of damaged vessels, responded to a call from their counterparts in the northwest United States offering aid. Through the combined efforts of the Washington, Alaska and Louisiana Sea Grant programs, along with the Pacific Coast Congress of Harbormasters, a surplus Marine Travelift was located in the City and Port of Valdez, Alaska, and its donation was solicited for the vessel recovery effort. LSG administration and Plaquemines Parish government endorsed this effort by submitting letters of support to the Valdez City Council, which approved the donation at its Dec. 5, 2005, meeting. The lift was delivered to the Plaquemines Parish in February, 2006. (Winter 2005)

Marine Extension agent Mark Schexnayder was named special assistant in charge of Hurricane Katrina recovery for the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, reporting directly to the AgCenter’s chancellor. As such, Schexnayder established a working group/task force to address constituents’ needs in the five-parish area impacted by the storm. Marine Extension agents Kevin Savoie and Mark Shirley are members of the Hurricane Rita recovery working group/task force. (Fall 2005)

Using satellite images and Geographical Information Systems, LSG Marine Extension agent Thomas Hymel developed Hurricane Rita storm surge maps for St. Mary, Iberia and Vermilion parishes. The objective was to delineate total acreage in those parishes inundated by brackish surge water from the storm. Coastal communities in these parishes are interested in the information as it relates to agriculture, building codes, rebuilding efforts, insurance and financing. Hymel is using the data as an educational opportunity to show residents how much damage could have occurred if the storm surge was greater and what might happen in future storms. (Fall 2005)

LSG Marine Extension agents worked closely with many owners and operators of seafood-related businesses damaged by Hurricane Katrina. Among them was Theresa Nguyen, owner of Theresa’s Seafood (a processor/wholesale operation) in St. Bernard Parish. Agent Rusty Gaude’ helped Nguyen determine what steps she needs to take to get her business operational again. Winds and storm surge ravaged her building, blowing out walls, and several commercial fishing vessels block access to her dock. Power to Nguyen’s business, which had been designated as a critical facility by FEMA, had been out for several months. Shrimp valued at about $300,000 before the storm rotted in her freezers. He continues to work with local, state and federal officials to have other infrastructure restored to the facility. (2005-2006)

Continuing to address the needs of south Louisiana residents in the wake of the storm, LSG Legal organized a seminar on reducing risks from coastal hazards on Oct. 17, 2005. Dennis Hwang, an internationally recognized coastal zone management expert and attorney from Hawaii, was the featured seminar presenter. The half-day program, attended by more than 70 people, complemented the Presidents’ Forum on Meeting Coastal Challenges series, which is co-hosted by LSG, and provided the groundwork for more in-depth discussion covered at the March 2006 forum. (Fall 2005)

Twenty-five LSU landscape architecture seniors focused their efforts during fall 2005 on a redevelopment plan and design for New Orleans. LSG provided funding support for the project. Safe and sustainable growth concepts that explore a more disaster-prepared community were a principal aspect of the students’ urban design plans, along with alternative transportation concepts. The designs provide a range of economic development alternatives, with the goal of returning evacuated residents to livable, attractive neighborhoods. The students produced two- and three-dimensional plans and supporting materials that demonstrate a number of alternatives for rebuilding a safer, more engaging and vibrant New Orleans. In the spring of 2006, the students shifted their focus to the Lake Charles area, which was hit by Hurricane Rita, and developed similar plans. (2005-2006)

In winter 2005, students from Ohio State University visited the New Orleans area to help with clean-up and recovery efforts. LSG Marine Extension agent Mark Schexnayder organized the volunteers, who arrived in groups of 30. The project was so successful that it continued with OSU students throughout the summer of 2006. (2005-2006)