Coastal Louisiana is home to hundreds of small communities, as well as several larger towns (such as Lafitte, Houma, and Thibodaux), that are not protected by the large Federal subsidized hurricane protection levees such as those that surround New Orleans. Proposed new levees cannot incorporate all of these communities, although the Morganza to the Gulf levee* when it is built, will include the larger towns listed here. One community that will not be included is the small town of Isle de Jean Charles in Terrebonne Parish.
- *Read about the Morganza to the Gulf Levee in this U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: Morganza to the Gulf fact sheet.
- In 2006, the New York Times published an article that tells the story of this small community of Native Americans who have lived off the land and water for many generations. At that time the residents were weary of repeated flooding and contemplating their future.
- In 2008, the Times-Picayune published an article after Hurricanes Gustav and Ike’s storm surges had devastated the town and Chief Albert Naquin announced that he would be moving the entire town to safer ground.
As the short film below (11:23) will demonstrate, not all the residents agree with Chief Naquin’s decision.
Activate Your Learning
Read the articles and watch the videos on Isle de Jean Charles, LA to help you understand the dilemma faced by such a small, tight-knit community.
What do you think is the strongest motivation for the residents deciding whether to leave or stay? What is the future of this community?
Click for answer.
The residents of Isle de Jean Charles are very attached to the land on which they live, their families' histories are there, and they do not have many choices for moving to another location. Therefore, most want to stay. This is a reflection, so there really is no correct answer.
Note: We will take another look at Isle de Jean Charles in Module 8.
Important Note and Related Recommended Resources
- In 2016, the community of Isle de Jean Charles was the recipient of federal funding (Department of Urban Development - HUD) to relocate the village to a safer location. This is the first time a community has been provided funding and support for a relocation of this kind. Read about the Isle de Jean Charles Resettlement proposal.
- Also, read the NY Times article: Resettling the First American ‘Climate Refugees’