Hurricanes: Response

Louisiana Hurricane Resources

Sea Grant Initiatives Archive: Response

Louisiana Sea Grant Education compiled and posted on its Web site (www.lamer.lsu.edu) links for students and teachers to find accurate information about the science of hurricanes and other storms. Located on the site are links to imagery, safety, recovery and available classroom materials for teachers.

Sea Grant Education and the LSU Department of Curriculum and Instruction developed a PowerPoint on levees and storm surge which was presented at teacher conferences in October 2005 and February 2006.

Louisiana Sea Grant Education developed an interactive, hands on map activity to help children, adults and educators grasp an the size and scope of the storms’ damage as it relates to geography, cities, local area evacuation routes, populations, major cities and road ways. The map teaches fundamental principles in geography, math, demographics and economics and is a useful tool for introducing the topic of hazards, such as hurricanes, tsunamis and earthquakes.

Hurricane Rita left the canals at Cypremort Point filled with sediment and debris, which prevented boats from using the waterways. Marine Extension agent Glenn Thomas aided in connecting local officials with state and federal representatives who could help with clearing the channels. LSG agents also helped local officials document the damage in order to receive Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance. (Fall 2005)

Marine Extension agent Mark Shirley helped assess damages to crawfish and alligator farms, as well as recreational fishing ponds, following Hurricane Rita. Shirley estimated that 25,000 acres of crawfish ponds in Vermilion, Iberia and St. Martin parishes were directly impacted by flood waters, and that little or no production could be expected in the affected areas during the coming season. Alligator farms received varied degrees of damage from the storm. However, marshes where eggs are harvested flooded with saltwater, and egg production will have to be monitored for a few years to calculate the full impact of Rita, Shirley determined. (Fall 2005)

The Louisiana Restoration Science Community prepared a position paper and 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. LSG wetlands and coastal resources professor Rex Caffey was the lead author of the position paper, which also recommended that additional expenditures on the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO) be limited until long-awaited studies conducted for the MRGO Re-evaluation Study are available for further review by the wider community, and that a natural resource expert be included on the Louisiana Recovery Authority. (Winter 2005)

LSG research professor John Supan chaired the strategic planning committee that helped implement the Louisiana Oyster Task Force Oyster Recovery Plan. Marine Extension agent Rusty Gaude’ served on the committee. Supan also served as chair of the Louisiana Oyster Task Force’s research and development committee, and he assisted the Louisiana Oyster Dealers and Growers Association with the establishment of the Louisiana Oyster Community Relief Fund. (Fall/Winter 2005)

Marine Extension agent Rusty Gaudé assisted the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries on a project enlisting local fishermen in Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes to assess the area’s oyster beds. Marine Extension agent Thomas Hymel instructed participants in the proper use of Global Positioning Systems. (Fall/Winter 2005)

Many educational events for students and teachers across the state were cancelled because of the hurricanes. Despite some logistical hurdles, LSG Education elected to hold Ocean Commotion 2005, a one-day marine education fair, as scheduled at LSU to bring some normalcy to the school year. Fifty exhibitors responded positively to the decision and participated, many featured hurricanes as a topic. Several pre-registered schools required additional spaces for evacuee students. In all, about 100 of the 1,900 students attending were evacuees, as well as a few exhibitors. (Fall 2005)

Responding to the need for information in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, LSG Communications launched the Louisiana Hurricane Resources website. Officially unveiled Sept. 19, 2005, the site offered visitors information on topics such as wetlands, seafood, water quality, ports, economic impacts and rebuilding concerns. Through a question-and-answer format with experts from a variety of fields, residents, business owners and community leaders could find the information they needed to make decisions about their immediate future. (Fall 2005)

Not long after Hurricane Katrina, concerns about the safety of Louisiana seafood began to crop up in the media and in communities across the country. Those same concerns arose again following Hurricane Rita. LSG Communications took a proactive role following Katrina in combating misinformation concerning seafood safety by preparing, with the assistance of an LSG food scientist, a set of talking points that extension personnel could use when speaking with constituents and members of the media. Additionally, LSG Communications prepared a media pitch concerning seafood safety that was distributed to local, regional and national media. The pitch resulted in LSG food scientist Jon Bell serving as a source for a seafood safety news story that aired on the NBC affiliate in Shreveport on Sept. 23. Additionally, LSG professor Rex Caffey addressed the issue of seafood safety on CNN’s “Daybreak with Carol Costello” on Oct. 13. (Fall 2005)