I’ve often wondered how New Orleans got itself into such a predicament as they did with Hurricane Katrina. I knew it had something to do with the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico and filling in the marshlands, but wasn’t sure how that played into the disastrous results caused by Katrina in 2005. As a native plant/natural landscaping enthusiast, I know how important it is to maintain our marshes and wetlands, so I suspected filling in the marshlands had a lot to do with the catastrophe. I did not realize half of New Orleans was below sea level from clearing vegetation, draining marshes and building sea walls.
Last week I stumbled across an article by New Orleans geographer Richard Campanella in The Atlantic. It went through the history of man trying to outwit the mighty Mississippi and the Atlantic Ocean going back 300 years ago and ended with little hope of mitigation success in the future. Read “How Humans Sank New Orleans.”
LIDA Elevation Model of New Orleans
A LIDAR elevation model of New Orleans shows areas above sea level in red tones (up to 10 or 15 feet, except for the artificial levees) and areas below sea level in yellow to blueish tones (mostly ranging from -1 down to -10 feet). (Richard Campanella / FEMA)
Here’s another informative article “The Great Katrina Footprint Debate 10 years later: Richard Campanella.”