Venice, Louisiana – Along the fifty-miles of Highway 23 leading south from New Orleans to the fingertip of land that ends in marshes outside of this fishing-and-oil town are reminders of disasters past and pending.
Remnants of wood-frame homes never rebuilt since the hurricanes five years ago. Cement slabs where entire sub-divisions of brick homes used to stand. New homes and workplaces built since the storms sit two, six, even twenty feet above ground, supported on cinder block , sturdy posts of brick or 4 x4s, prepared in advance for whenever the next flood waters race beneath rather than through them. Dozens of businesses shuttered, never to reopen.
Looking months and years into the future, given the still-looming crisis building in the Gulf of Mexico each day as thousands more barrels of crude are added to the mix, it’s easy to imagine many of the homes and businesses still standing as vacant, abandoned shells. Once oil reaches the marshes and coastal beaches of Louisiana – as it is right now threatening in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida – for many years after there won’t be work for the shrimpers and seafood processors, charter boat fishermen and the dependent businesses (restaurants and bars, bait shops and hardware stores) lining the four-lane. For the rest of my dispatches from Louisiana, see takepart.com.