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Nippy the Nutria

By Tara and Ralph

On our tour of the Mississippi River we learned about the nutria rat. This species of rat was introduced to Louisiana for fur trade in the 19th century. The nutria were accidentally released into the wild when a hurricane destroyed their holding pens and the nutria escaped. They are now invasive to New Orleans and because there are so many of them negatively affecting the ecosystem, a law was placed to control the problem. When a rat is killed, the tail can be cut off and the hunter can get 5 dollars per tail as an incentive for hunting the rats.

The Captain shared this picture of his catch of invasive nutria .

Our tour guide recollected the time he captured one. While hunting the “nutra”-as he calls it, he ended up killing a mother nutria rat and one of its babies was left behind. He felt bad for the little critter, so he stuffed it in his boot, took it home, and nursed it to health with a milk. The rat he describes as friendly. It runs around the house and and answers to “Nippy” or “MAHHH!!”. He has the pet rat named Nippy to this day. Although he loves his pet rat, he still goes hunting for nutra and does his part to help decrease the nutra population, so that the ecosystem can get back into order.

Dazed and Not-So-Confused

Hurricane Katrina may have been 13 years ago, it is still part of the psyche that makes up New Orleans. The environmental reporter, Mark, we had talked and listened to was very informative. It was also very sobering as his slide show illustrated the scars that this very preventable disaster had played out. As I’ve heard many times now, it wasn’t a natural disaster, but a man-made one. At the 17th Street Pump Station, these generators may be one of the few things that will make or break the sustainability of keeping New Orleans afloat, the engineers themselves said they would last for five days in the eve of a 100 year event. But is it enough? As we’ve seen lately, climate change has made this unpredictable and arrogant. What will it take for people to actually prepare for worst, like a 500 year event that some believe is inevitable in our era, happens and we’re caught with our pants down again?

Records

Today we met up with Mark at Cafe de Monde to speak about the music industry in New Orleans. We discussed about issues he has faced as well as the local artists. One main issue that he has faced has been the decreasing sale of vinyl and cd’s. He had mentioned that online streaming has been decreasing the sale of these items. He typically would have brought the group a Cd but cd’s are slowly becoming a rare item to the population.

Mark had been running a record label for twenty-one years and currently has fifteen artists signed. Mark is a native New Orleanian and is happy to be back in his hometown.

Woodlands Work

I enjoyed the beautiful view of the woodlands swaps and beautiful forest today! I love that we can help regulate and enforce the park so we can help restore the land that was destroyed from Katrina!

Untold Truth About Levees During Katrina

The levees in New Orleans were almost created to fail. For those who aren’t sure a levee is a natural occurring barrier of protection separating a body of water from land. Natural levees have helped keep out water from land for thousands of years. However since the Industrial Age levees have been feeling more and more stress due to increase in storm intensities, frequency and human influence. New Orleans and Louisiana, a state with rain almost year round and one who has been heavily effected by hurricanes knows this all to well.

In order to compensate for thebstrasors New Orleans and the federal government, the Army Corp of Engineers, decided to reinforce their levees by adding walls of steel into the levees, known as flood walls. This is an example of their efforts:

Unfinished Levee meant to keep water out of the city. This wall you can still visit.

In 2005 when hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, the main “fail safe” (the levees) failed around the city engulfing people and communities if thousands of gallons of water.

One of these levees was the London Ave Canal. Although not as devastating as the infamous 9th Ward flooding, the London St canal still had it’s fair share of breakage by destroying homes, displacing families and killing.

https://nola.piratelab.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/img_0369.mov

This is only one of the countless of stories of these walls failing. Unfortunately these stories are rarely heard about and still till this day no one has been held accountable for the failure of these walls and levees. No museums have a history of this and hardly no records exists highlighting this catastrophe.

Fortunately at the 7th Street canal there is a memorial made by a non-profit called the NOLA Tree Project, that teaches the community and those who go and tour about the event and the untold truth of the New Orleans levees.

Orleans Canal Levee

It can definitely be said that the Orleans Canal Levee was a poorly exicuted plan. As it can be seen in the image above, the end of the levee near the waste water treatment plan does not connect to anything. During the 2005 Hurricane Katrina this opening in the levee, that was designed by the Army Corp of Engineers, allowed a massive surge of water to flood the land that should have been protected. Although it is unknown what would have really happened if the levee was completed, it still shows that there was a lack of competence when designing it due to the damage that the opening allowed.

17th street pumping station

On March 18th, 2019, we went to the Louisiana 17th street pumping station to learn more about how the water drainage system works in New Orleans. Water is pumped from the city to lake Pontchatrain. There are 15 generator that power the pumps that make this possible. Ken, one of the tour guides, told us that the pumping station could be controlled by one person but is extremely hard and that person would have to run around a lot which is not ideal. Resources are needed to support pumping stations in potential flooding times. Below is a picture of these power station. It is important to have these pumping stations in Louisiana because there is so much flooding. The two guides described to us a situation where poor water resource planning caused New Orleans to flood without any hurricane at all, just rain. This cannot be allowed to happen. More information about the need and effectiveness of pumping stations and levees needs to be shared with the public. Especially after hurricane Katrina.