Hurricane season: Remembering the past and protecting the future

By Audrey Payne, Environmental Defense Fund

To mark the beginning of the 2012 hurricane season on June 1, the Mississippi River Delta Restoration Campaign will launch a social media event to bring awareness to the importance of storm protection and wetland restoration as a line of defense against storm surge.

Track map of all storms of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season. Source: Wikipedia Commons

With another storm season upon us, it’s hard not to think about the possibility of another destructive storm — like Hurricane Katrina or Rita — sweeping across the delta or the Gulf Coast. We should be aware of and prepared for another damaging storm, but it is also important to appreciate the coastline’s ability to provide natural protection from hurricanes. For example, healthy coastal wetlands can provide substantial protection by absorbing storm surge and flooding.

Unfortunately, the wetlands surrounding the Mississippi River Delta are disappearing, and much of what remains is severely degraded — a direct result of manmade measures that have isolated the sediment and fresh water that once built and replenished the rich coastal marshes, swamps and barrier islands.

If and when strong hurricanes come into the gulf, this wetland loss means there is much less protection for coastal communities. We saw how land loss contributed to the damage caused by Katrina and Rita, and it would serve us well to learn from the past and protect our natural storm barriers: coastal wetlands. We must push for wetland protection and restoration in order to protect coastal Louisiana from another horrific disaster.

Please show your support as we work to promote policy and science that will restore and protect Louisiana’s wetlands. “Like” us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to show your support and to find out more about what we are working on this hurricane season.