Within a 45-day period, Hurricanes Laura and Delta significantly changed the landscape of southwest Louisiana and permanently altered many peoples’ lives. Hurricane Laura made landfall Aug. 27 near Cameron and Hurricane Delta made landfall Oct. 9 approximately 15 miles east of Cameron. The areas impacted by these storms include prime waterfowl and wetland habitats and are priority areas for Ducks Unlimited conservation work.
DU has numerous projects in southwest Louisiana and, like most infrastructure, these projects sustained some damage. Over the next several months DU will work with partners to determine the extent of damages. It will be a slow process because DU’s partners who live, work and recreate in southwest Louisiana are busy addressing damages to homes, businesses, equipment and other important assets. In the wake of historic events such as hurricanes Laura and Delta, people must come first when it comes to damage evaluation and repair.
DU staff anticipate a range of impacts to past projects, from minor damage to the complete loss of project features. One example of extensive damage is the loss of a water-control structure on the west side of the Bell City Drainage Canal (near Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge) due to Hurricane Laura. This structure was installed in 2019 as part of a North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) project called Pine Pasture Wetlands Enhancement. During the storm, a barge broke loose in the Bell City Drainage Canal and collided with the structure which resulted in a total. Below are a few drone photos of the damaged structure.
DU will keep cranking out projects in southwest Louisiana. The conservation work is more important in the hurricanes’ aftermath. DU secured funding for five NAWCA projects over the past few years, and projects from those grants will be constructed soon. Three projects will start within the next three months and the other two within the next 12 months. When including all south Louisiana projects, DU has over $19 million set aside for conservation work over the next few years to help ducks and wetlands in coastal Louisiana. DU vows to keep conserving, restoring, and protecting Louisiana’s wetlands for the good of North America’s waterfowl.