As the city expanded, the low-lying, swampy area promised space and opportunity. Black families moved there en masse, and services like grocery stores, malls and jobs followed. But the growth stalled and the far-flung, sprawling region started suffering from disinvestment and white flight. Crime and blight followed. After Hurricane Katrina hit, many businesses never reopened. Hotels, schools and stores shuttered. Now, residents complain about feeling forgotten. That feeling hasn't subsided as a pandemic sweeps the world.
Climate change is bringing heavier rain and bigger storms — new challenges for old cities.
Last summer the Mississippi River and many of its tributaries flooded for months, causing more than $20 billion dollars in damage. Climate change is bringing more heavy and frequent rainstorms, a threat many flood protection systems were not built for. Rivers creep over levees or burst them. There’s nowhere for the water to go.
The Netherlands is a coastal nation and faces similar threats to Louisiana, like rising seas, stronger storms and a sinking coast. Over the past thousand years, the Dutch have built giant floodwalls and levees to protect them from the North Sea, just like officials continue to do in Louisiana.
After Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana officials sought advice from the Dutch. It makes sense. In the Netherlands, people have been managing water for a thousand years. Coastal communities across the world are now facing new climate threats — rising seas, more intense storms and heavier rain.