The Disappearing CoastIn this occasional series, NPR's Debbie Elliott examines the history and culture of south Louisiana, the state's complicated relationship with the oil and gas industry and the oil spill's lasting impact on a fragile coastline.
The Disappearing Coast
NPR's Debbie Elliott explores the impact of the Gulf oil spill.
Pictured here on April 13, 2011, Barataria Bay — part of Louisiana's Barataria Basin — was one of the hardest hit areas in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion. Today, obvious signs of the spill have faded, but communities are still reeling from its effects.
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Members of the Vietnamese community listen in Kenner, La., as independent claims administrator Ken Feinberg and Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu conduct a town hall meeting for residents economically affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Aaron Hofer, 27, of Bayou La Batre, Ala., has been largely out of work since the BP oil spill. The Iraq veteran and fourth-generation shrimper says if it wasn't for his children, he probably would have already committed suicide.
Homemaker Lena Hofer, 25, recently went to the community center in Bayou La Batre, Ala., for free food and household goods -- and was reluctantly turned away by volunteers when Feed the Children ran out of supplies. "It's really hard when they send you away after you [ask for food], especially when you need it like I do," she says. "I'm about to cry."
Bayou Bienvenue in New Orleans is an example of south Louisiana’s wetland loss. Fifty years ago, this was a productive freshwater marsh with cypress and tupelo trees. Today, stumps are all that remain, as saltwater has encroached inland.