From 2004 through 2008 alone, more than 300 square miles of marshland were lost to hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike. The destruction these storms brought to the region demonstrated the critical role a healthy coast plays in protecting communities. Without investments in coastal restoration and structural protection, New Orleans’ levee system will be overwhelmed by future storms and flood waters will devastate the city.
The dramatic loss of land along the Gulf Coast leaves it even more vulnerable to future storms. As the coastal buffer disappears, areas further inland will experience increased storm damage. Over the next 50 years, Louisiana could face up to $3.6 billion in costs to repair and replace infrastructure destroyed by land loss if the state takes no action to curb it. Up to $138 billion in national business, residential and infrastructure assets could be lost in just one big storm.
Just five years after Hurricane Katrina, an oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, leaking 210 million gallons of oil into the Gulf. Hundreds of miles of coastline were contaminated with oil, while Gulf wildlife and ecosystems sustained unprecedented damage.
In a region already suffering from the impacts of natural disasters, the oil spill further endangered the Gulf coast’s critical industries, from hospitality and tourism to commercial fishing.