Before Hurricane Katrina, the coast of Louisiana was disappearing at a rate of up to 50 square miles a year. And now the news is out that, in one day, Katrina took another 118 square miles of coast away.
That is alarming. The more we lose, the more frequently we can expect to lose land in the future because there is less land to hold what is left in place.
The federal government was quibling about supporting a $14 billion plan to restore the coast before Katrina. Now it is planning to spend over $100 billion just to help restore what was lost in the storm. And that won’t restore the coast.
A healthy coast for Louisiana would be the best levee system the state can have. Every 2 1/2 miles of wetlands reduces tidal surges during hurricanes by one foot. If the wetland disappearance continues, then all the levees in the world won’t help us.
That $14 billion program was well planned. It could be implemented in coming years to protect the human and wildlife populations of south Louisiana that produce abundantly for our country.
Before the storm, the Bush administration offered to support a small part of the program over a 10-year period to help prove the overall plan would work before heading into the full $14 billion program. Considering the amount of destruction to our coast resulting from Katrina, we need to shorten that 10 years to only 2 or 3 if we are to pursue the program piece meal. And we don’t need to study it 2 or 3 years before doing it. If there are any obvious changes that have to be made after Katrina, it can be done in a few weeks.
The program is already planned. Let’s get on with it now.