It’s mind-boggling to think that in three days I will be in Louisiana, officially beginning my DukeEngage experience! I am really looking forward to these next eight weeks as our team works with our community leaders on wetland restoration and environmental education. Naturally, I am anxious for various reasons. Similar to what one would feel on a first day at work or a first day of school, I don’t really know what to expect. But something else also occupies my mind at the moment, and that is the present situation with the swelling of the Mississippi river and the opening of the Morganza spillway. Plenty of questions have been raised with the opening of this spillway by the Army Corp of Engineers:
What are the consequences of flooding farmland and smaller cities in order to relieve pressure from the levees and prevent flooding in the larger cities?
When will the relocated residents of the Atchafalaya River Basin be able to return to their homes?
How will the vast nutrient deposition in the Gulf of Mexico contribute to eutrophication and hypoxia dead zones?
Will the drowning of farmland impact crop and food production?
As of right now it is unclear whether our project will be at all affected by the flooding that is ongoing. I am anxious for our project, but at the same time I cannot fathom what it must be like right now to be one of the thousands of Atchafalaya River Basin residents who have been forced to relocate to higher grounds. In terms of the long-term environmental effects, I imagine that it will take a few months to years for scientists to research and evaluate problems and potential solutions. Until then, I think we all are all holding our breaths and crossing our fingers, hoping for the best. Too many environmental disasters have already plagued Louisiana, and it’s really unfortunate that we are seeing one take place again.