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“Louisiana is going to have to make some hard decisions in terms of where they abandon areas and where they draw the line. [...]  If you listen very carefully to the Corps of Engineers, they're no longer talking about ‘flood protection,’ they’re talking about ‘risk reduction,’” (Ivor van Heerden via PRI, 2015)

Aerial view of Louisiana wetlands. Photograph by Ryan Hagerty, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. January 19, 2006. Public domain.

New Orleans, LA,
September 8, 2005.

Photograph by Jocelyn Augustino, FEMA. 2005. Public domain.



Geography of New Orleans

By Richard Campanella

Richard Campanella, a geographer with the Tulane School of Architecture, is the author of ten books and over 200 articles on the geography, history, and culture of New Orleans and related topics.

Read Richards Campanella's Geography of New Orleans

Thoughts on New Orleans and the Mississippi

By Jeff Carney

Jeff Carney is Associate Professor of the School of Architecture and Director of the LSU Coastal Sustainability Studio at the Louisiana State University.

Read Jeff Carney's Thoughts on New Orleans and the Mississippi

Coastal Land Loss: Understanding Subsidence 

By David B. Culpepper

David B. Culpepper is a Registered Professional Geoscientist in Louisiana, Treasurer of the New Orleans Geological Society, and serves as an appointed member of the Louisiana State Water Resources Commission.

Read David Culpepper's Coastal Land Loss: Understanding Subsidence


“Twelve years ago Hurricane Katrina exposed the flood defences in New Orleans as a cruel joke. The floods unleashed by the storm marinated people's homes in fetid seawater and rendered much of the city uninhabitable for months. Since then, local and federal officials [...] have mostly been focused on making the low-lying, bowl-shaped city less vulnerable to a repeat of that catastrophe. 
However, the focus on hurricanes seems to have led officials to neglect a far more pedestrian threat. [...]  On August 5th, around 25 centimetres (10 inches) of rain fell in just over three hours, flooding several neighbourhoods. [...]  The episode highlights the inadequacy of the city’s ancient flood defences and the negligence of its officials in looking after them. [...]”  (The Economist, 2017)
“New Orleans is all kinds of unfathomable, a city of amorphous boundaries, where land is forever turning into water, water devours land, and a thousand degrees of marshy, muddy oozing in-between exist; where lines that elsewhere seem firmly drawn are blurry; where whatever you say requires more elaboration; where most rules are full of exceptions the way most land here is full of water.” – Rebecca Snedeker and Rebecca Solnit, Unfathomable City, 2013
“Every place is unique – and nowhere is this more true than Louisiana. What resilience entails depends on the particular characteristics of a place. Adapted from the traditional notion of resilience as the capacity of a system to maintain or recover functionality in the event of disruption or disturbance, resilience for regions, states, parishes, and towns can be described as: “The capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses and systems … to survive, adapt, and grow no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience.” (Center for Planning Excellence)
“Building resilience isn’t easy. [...] The United Nations Development Programme has
found that "one dollar spent reducing vulnerability to disasters saves around seven dollars in economic losses,” and other economic analyses have found similar high rates of return.  Beyond the cost-benefit analysis, it is the very survival of many of Louisiana’s unique communities, people, and places that is at stake.” (Center for Planned Excellence)

More Information

Water Institute of the Gulf, The Gulf Coast's leading coastal science think tank.

“Cityscapes: Richard Campanella On Clean Slates, Katrina And The Storm Of 1722.”, Hardman, Jesse and Richard Campanella, New Orleans Public Radio, August 14, 2015.

Resilient NOLA: City of New Orleans' resiliency plan

Environment : Greater New Orleans Foundation

Restore the Mississippi River Delta (MRD), A coalition of local, state and national NGOs working to protect and restore coastal Louisiana.

Living with Water: Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan. The Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan is a resiliency planning study to develop sustainable strategies for managing the water resources of St. Bernard and the East Banks of Jefferson and Orleans Parishes. 

“Fortified but still in peril, New Orleans braces for its future.”, Schwartz, John and Mark Schleifstein, New York Times, February 24, 2018.

How Humans Sank New Orleans: Engineering put the Crescent City below sea level. Now, its future is at risk." Campanella, Richard, The Atlantic, February 6, 2018.