Coastal Communities in Louisiana Grapple with Rising Sea Levels As Americans Accept the Realities of Climate Change

Residents look out from their residence surrounded by water as the motorcade of Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney passes during a tour of damage from Hurricane Isaac in Jean Lafitte, Louisiana August 31, 2012. Romney made an unscheduled visit to Louisiana on Friday to view damage from Hurricane Isaac, the day after accepting his party's nomination to take on President Barack Obama in the November 6 election. REUTERS/Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS DISASTER)

Jean Lafitte, a coastal town on Bayou Barataria, is one of the many villages scattered along the Louisiana coastline under threat of being submerged by rising sea levels owing to climate change. For these coastal communities, it is not a matter of if they will “succumb,” but when.

Lafitte is south of New Orleans, a metropolis still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Katrina and one of the dozen U.S. cities—including New York and Miami—at risk from the effects of global warming.

Americans are becoming increasingly conscious of climate change and many fear natural disasters may be on the rise. In 2015, The Harris Poll found that 51% of Americans, up from 45% the previous year, believe climate change exists and humans are the main cause. And in 2011, when we asked Americans if they think that there has been more devastating natural disasters, including hurricanes, tornados and earthquakes at the time, three quarters of U.S. adults (76%) said there had been more.

But even with growing fears, we found that the level of preparedness for natural disasters vary by region. After Hurricane Harvey last year, we discovered that while 50 percent of Americans said they are very/somewhat prepared for natural disasters, those in the south were significantly more likely to say they’re prepared compared to other regions.

Following Katrina, the local, state and federal governments spent over $20 billion to redevelop bad levees for New Orleans. And yet, the Times reveals, the enhancements might do little to the spare the citizens the worst of another horrific storm.

“In Lafitte, only 25 miles south, the hurricane defense system consists mainly of [Mayor] Kerner and whichever men he can employ to sling tens of thousands of 25-pound sandbags, often for days on end.”

Read the full story on The New York Times.