Hurricanes Katrina and Rita ripped away 217 square miles of Louisiana's fragile coastline, with each turning huge swaths of land to water overnight, accelerating a process that already posed grave threats to coastal communities, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study.
Everyone knew that our coastline was seriously damaged during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita but no definite number was established to quantify the damage. Although this map puts it in visual terms that most people can understand.
Survey scientists compared satellite images taken in 2004 with similar images from October 2005 to match areas that were wetlands, undeveloped dry land and farmland with what looked like open water several weeks after the storms.
The survey underscores the state's repeated demands that federal officials speed efforts to rebuild the Louisiana coastline, both to protect fragile fisheries and wildlife and to augment the buffer of plants, soils and barrier islands that can slow the approach of killer storm surges.
So far, finding a solution to this problem has been as elusive as finding an honest politician in Louisiana.