With every letter that I press into the recesses of this key-
board there is a sinking that echoes the loss of Louisiana—60,000
characters remind me why this isn’t a simple cause célèbre. This
is not another Kony155 sensation splashed across every corner of
the Internet for a burning moment. As Southern Louisiana sinks
into the Gulf, so does a culture unlike any other in this world.
I realize that my ﬁnger was holding down the shift key when
she asks me if there is any hope for this place. As I remove my
ﬁnger, I feel the rise below. I look up at her and nod, “Yes.”
* * *
The time to act in order to save Louisiana’s dwindling
coastal wetlands was 30 years ago. The gut-wrenching truth is
that scholars, such as Oliver Houck, have been recommending,
then heavily suggesting, then screaming, and now are groveling
for action by the State of Louisiana and the U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers. Although the efforts to save the State have begun
to trickle in, gains are slow, and many are disillusioned or con-
vinced that the point of no return happened sometime around
However, Har riet Beecher Stowe once wrote, “Never give
up then, for that’s just the place and time that the tide’ll turn.”156
The citizens of Laplace, Louisiana, have the distinct opportunity
to hold off the oppressive tide of the Gulf of Mexico. Through
organizing and ﬁling a class action suit against the State of
Louisiana, the Department of Natural Resources, and the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers based upon the public-trust doctrine
and the Federal Tort Claims Act, a tiny town of Louisianans
might incite change that will alter the face of a continent.
Endnotes: Laplace Rising: The Story of How a Tiny Community in Southern
Louisiana Will Save the Largest Delta in North America
1 WEATHER UNDERGROUND, Tropical Depression Isaac: Track-
ing Map (Aug. 30, 2012), http://www.wunderground.com/
hurricane/at201209.asp; Eric Burger, Don’t Look Now, but
Forecast Models Continue to Trend West With Isaac, HOUSTON
CHRONICLE (Aug. 26, 2012), http://blog.chron.com/sciguy/2012/08/
2 Hurricane Katrina, NAT’L CLIMATIC DATA CTR. (Dec. 29, 2005), http://
www.ncdc.noaa.gov/special-reports/katrina.html; Hurricane Rita, NAT’L
CLIMATIC DATA CTR. (Sep. 22, 2005), http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/special-reports/
rita.html; John Beven & Todd Kimberlain, Tropical Cyclone Report: Hurricane
Gustav, NAT’L HURRICANE CTR. (Sep. 15, 2009), http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/pdf/
3 See Cain Burdeau, Hurricane Isaac 2012 Floods Regions Around
New Orleans, HUFFINGTON POST, Aug. 30, 2012 http://www.hufﬁngtonpost.
Tina Susman, Rancor Rises With the Water: Isaac Swamps Parishes While New
Orleans Protected, L. A. TIMES, Aug. 31, 2012, http://articles.latimes.com/2012/
4 Hurricane Isaac Tracking Advisory, NAT’L HURRICANE CTR., http://www.
nhc.noaa.gov/archive/2012/graphics/al09/loop_5W.shtml (last visited Nov. 4,
5 Michael Kunzelman, Hurricane Katrina Floodwall Case Heads to Trial
in New Orleans, HUFFINGTON POST, Sept. 11, 2012, http://www.hufﬁngtonpost.
6 Looters Take Advantage of New Orleans Mess, NBC NEWS, Aug. 30, 2005,
8 Oliver Houck, Can We Save New Orleans?, 19 TUL. ENVTL. L.J. 1, 21
9 Oliver Houck, Retaking the Exam: How Environmental Law Failed New
Orleans and the Gulf Coast South and How it Might Yet Succeed, 81 TUL. L.
REV. 1059, 1060 (2007) (“It was the work of humans that drowned us, not the
work of nature.”).
10 Doug J. Meffert & Bill Good, Case Study of the Ecosystem Management
Development in the Breton Sound Estuary, Louisiana, LA. DEP’T NATURAL RES.,
ence/econatres.wetlands23.i0008.pdf (last visited Nov. 4, 2013).
11 Houck, supra note 9, at 1060.
12 Dan Swenson, New Orleans Area Hurricane Protection, TIMES PICA-
graphic-2012.pdf (last visited Nov. 4, 2013).
13 Eric Blake, The Deadliest, Costliest, and Most Intense United States Tropi-
cal Cyclones from 1851 to 2010 (And Other Frequently Requested Hurricane
Facts), NAT’L HURRICANE CTR. (Aug. 2011), http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/pdf/nws-
14 See President Barack Obama, Remarks at Xavier University in New
Orleans, Louisiana (Aug. 29, 2010), in 2010 DAILY COMP. PRES. DOC. at 4,
available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/DCPD-201000706/pdf/DCPD-
15 Ellen Wulfhorst & Scott Malone, New Orleans Withstands Isaac’s Wrath,
For Now, REUTERS, Aug. 29, 2012, http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/29/
16 Mark Schleifstein, Louisiana is Losing a Football Field of Wetlands an
Hour, New U.S. Geological Survey Says, NOLA.COM (June 2, 2011), http://www.
17 David Batker, et. al, Gaining Ground: Wetlands, Hurricanes, and the
Economy: The Value of Restoring the Mississippi River Delta, ENVT’L LAW INST.
(Nov. 2010), available at http://www.eli.org/pdf/NA_40-11/40.11106.pdf.
18 GULF RESTORATION NETWORK, Wetland Importance, http://healthygulf.org/
our-work/wetlands/wetland-importance (last visited Nov. 4, 2013).
19 U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY, DEPICTING COASTAL LOUISIANA LAND LOSS 1 (July
2005), available at http://www.nwrc.usgs.gov/factshts/2005-3101.pdf.
20 Lateef Mungin, Communities Focus on Cleanup As Isaac Weakens, CNN
(Aug. 31, 2012), http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/30/us/weather-isaac/index.html.
21 EQECAT: AN ABS CO., TECHNICAL REPORT: THE HURRICANE AND STORM
DAMAGE RISK REDUCTION SYSTEM IN NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA 8, 16, 19 (2009),
available at http://www.eqecat.com/pdfs/hurricane-storm-damage-risk-
reduction-system-new-orleans-louisiana-2012-08-28.pdf; see generally, Chris-
topher Helman, Billions in New Defenses Mean Isaac Will Not Rival Hurricane
Katrina In Damage, FORBES (Aug. 27, 2012), http://www.forbes.com/sites/
22 Ron Thibodeaux, Hurricane Isaac Floodwaters Take Slidell and Laplace
by Surprise, TIMES-PICAYUNE, Aug. 31, 2012, http://www.nola.com/hurricane/
23 Brian Merchant, New Orleans Wetlands Now the Fastest-Disappearing
Land Mass on Earth, TREE HUGGER (Sept. 18, 2009), http://www.treehugger.
24 JEFF WILLIAMS, U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY, THE LAKE PONTCHARTRAIN BASIN:
LOUISIANA’S TROUBLED URBAN ESTUARY (1995), available at http://marine.usgs.
26 BRADY COUVILLION, ET AL., U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY, LAND AREA CHANGE IN
COASTAL LOUISIANA FROM 1932 TO 2010 at 1 (2011).
continued on page 67