Gulf Coast Ponders Future Amid Erosion and Destruction

As land continues to disappear along the Gulf Coast and hurricane damages increase, many are beginning to reconsider whether to rebuild or retreat.

"The double-blow of Gustav and Ike - just three years after Katrina and Rita unleashed the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history - has reopened a decades-old debate amid coastal communities: defend or retreat?"

"Locals and officials throughout the Gulf Coast continue to press for more stringent building requirements and stronger levees and floodwalls to prevent floods. But some coastal analysts argue that coastal erosion is growing too fast and some Gulf Coast towns need to depopulate and move to higher ground."

"The debate could be repeated in coastal communities in Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and elsewhere throughout the USA, said Robert Young, professor of coastal geology at Western Carolina University."

"Southern Louisiana loses about 15 square miles of coastline a year, largely because of dredging and the 10,000 miles of transport canals dug by oil and gas companies over the years, according to the U.S. Geological Survey office in Baton Rouge. Louisiana has lost more than 2,100 square miles of coastline - about the size of Delaware - since the 1930s, and Katrina and Rita mauled 200 square miles, according to the office. Estimates for Gustav and Ike are still being compiled."

Full Story: Coastal rebuilding awash in debate

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