AWF hosting Coastal Communities Adaptation Roundtable at Nicholls

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January 8, 2020
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Future Flood Risk for the Lafourche/Terrebonne area

The America’s WETLAND Foundation (AWF) will host a Coastal Communities Adaptation Roundtable on Tuesday, January 14, 2020, at Nicholls State University from 9:30 a.m. to noon, in the Bollinger Suite at the Student Union. The dialogue is designed to address solutions to the global challenge of adapting to the “new normal” of sea-level rise and future storm events.

According to flood inundation maps released by the real estate website, Zillow, and Climate Central, close to $1 trillion in American real estate will be lost if seas rise six feet. Retreat is not the answer supported by most coastal residents and AWF advocates for living with water and building with nature to sustain coastal communities facing rising seas and saltwater intrusion destroying coastal lands.

“Today’s news is full of gloom and doom tied to sea-level rise projections. In all of the political hand wringing over climate change, we seem to have lost sight of the way to untangle this mess. The magnitude of the issue is hard to digest for many who live in coastal Louisiana as communities, cultures, and ways of life stand to be disrupted and lost,” Val Marmillion, managing director of the America’s WETLAND Foundation, said.

Priceless natural assets have been devalued over time and strengthening our ecosystems to support our economy holds the key to restoring nature’s defenses. The new FEMA flood maps will impact the insurability of coastal communities and adapting to ways to keep local economies strong and growing is an intended outcome from the session.

“The new way forward is to ensure that home values are protected at a time when real estate is vulnerable to this devaluation,” Marmillion said.

Sidney Coffee, Senior Advisor to AWF, said, “For those who decide to just take their chances, the odds are not good. Communities that fail to act and adapt to sea-level rise, face the growing threat of reaching a tipping point when the perception of risk turns home values upside down. If real estate values decline and investments diminish, the tax base for basic services becomes depleted and what follows is obvious.”

In 2011, AWF hosted a Blue Ribbon Resilient Communities Leadership Forum in the Lafourche/Terrebonne region that looked at what may have to change to keep the area prosperous and safe into the future. The forum was informed by a $5 million study solicited by Entergy that looked at coastal infrastructure at risk along the Gulf Coast, zip code by zip code. The Roundtable at Nicholls State on January 14 will take a look back at that time and the progress that has been made since then.

Marmillion said, “The Foundation is returning to the region with the next phase – the Sea Safe Communities of Innovation program – to encourage a new era of decisive action. Ideas to match the challenge will flourish with ways to prevent retreat from the communities we love and the homes that hold our investments.”

“In places along the coast of Louisiana, with a diverse population and equity ladder, adaptation helps everyone – those who can’t afford to lose their home values and those who depend on government services to provide security and protection along with education and health care,” Marmillion said.

AWF supports the notion that addressing the “new normal” will require a belief system that respects the power of nature to carry us into future prosperity and equity for society, our economy and the environment. It’s not a bad proposition to, in turn, be able to salvage home values, communities and cultures for enhancing the environment that has allowed America to prosper and secure its energy supplies, international navigation assets, so much of the country’s seafood, and its world class wildlife habitat.