Virtual Tour Highlights Importance of Wetlands for Coastal Cities

09.17.2020 | In Coastal Restoration

The Lower 9th Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development (CSED), National Audubon Society, and the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL) are proud to release a virtual tour highlighting how a healthy coast is integral to a healthy community. Told through local voices, the tour examines key areas and infrastructure surrounding the Lower 9th Ward that provide protection from damaging winds and water driven by tropical storms and hurricanes.

This video is one effort in a series aimed at engaging Communities Restoring Urban Swamp Habitat
(CRUSH), a project of CRCL. Started in 2018, the CRUSH series uses a multi-pronged approach to spread awareness, advocate for healthy wetlands, and engage volunteers to restore local swamps by planting cypress and other trees.

“The best chance for the long-term sustainability of coastal communities requires a broad awareness of the challenges and engagement of our residents in a never-ending commitment to address the threats of climate change and hurricanes,” Corey Miller, CRCL’s Director of Community Resilience, explained.

The release of the video coincides with the 15th anniversaries of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita making landfall along Louisiana’s coast as southwest Louisiana recovers from the recent devastation of Hurricane Laura and southeast Louisiana prepares for Hurricane Sally. The devastation to the Lower 9th Ward community was, among other things, a direct result of years of complacency and disregard for the necessary role that healthy wetlands play in the reduction of storm surge and flood risk.

Click here to learn more about the  Lower 9th Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development! 

The Multiple Lines of Defense System (MLODS) relies on a mix of natural infrastructure (cypress swamps and wetlands), structural protection (levees, drainage pumps and floodgates), and individual measures (home elevation, flood insurance, etc.) that combine to reduce the potential for flooding. The virtual tour highlights how the MLODS system failed during Katrina with devastating results and how various restoration and volunteer opportunities are now working to strengthen the system.

“This video is a unique example of nonprofit collaboration, bridging urban water management with coastal restoration, all driven by community advocacy and volunteerism,” Arthur Johnson, CEO of CSED, said.

The collaboration between CSED, CRCL and the National Audubon Society’s state office to produce this virtual tour aims to demonstrate to the residents of the Lower 9 that they are neither forgotten nor alone in their fight for a healthy, sustainable community. Beyond the community, the video will serve as a communication tool to spread awareness of the needs that remain and as an example of the importance of restoring coastal wetlands as part of a strong defense against future storms.

“For this community and the greater New Orleans area, we need residents to understand that healthy swamps and wetlands are not only important habitat for birds and other wildlife, but also critical for the protection and sustainability of our communities, residents, and future generations,” Charles Allen, Audubon Louisiana’s Community Engagement Director and former 9th ward resident, said.

We hope that you find the virtual tour entertaining and enlightening. The CRUSH series was made
possible by funding from Entergy New Orleans and the Environmental Protection Agency: Gulf of Mexico Program.