Louisiana’s “working coast” is dotted with communities like Lafitte that may not outlast the people who currently live there: Cocodrie, Delacroix, Dulac, Grand Isle, Isle de Jean Charles, Kraemer, Leeville, Paradis, Pointe-aux-Chenes, Venice.
A fourth of the state’s wetlands are already gone, with heavy losses tallied from 2005 to 2008, when the coast was battered in succession by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike. In 2011, the federal government retired 35 place names for islands and bays and passes and ponds that had simply ceased to exist.
State planners believe another 2,000 square miles, or even double that, could be overtaken in 50 years as the land sinks, canals widen and sea levels rise because of climate change. Recent studies show that glacial melting is accelerating in Antarctica and Greenland, driving sea level rise on the Gulf Coast.