Gulf of Mexico

LA - Rebuild or Retreat? The Future of Louisiana's Coastline in Jeopardy

60 in 6's Enrique Acevedo meets with residents of Louisiana's Gulf Coast who are wondering if their communities can survive as members of a state agency try to reclaim vanishing coastline.

In an unprecedented year of circumstance, 2020 brought a record 12 named storms to the United States — with five striking Louisiana. After Hurricane Laura hit Louisiana in late August, some homes in Cameron Parish could only be reached by boat despite being eight miles inland from the Gulf Coast.

CBS News' Enrique Acevedo met up with Heidi Baccigalopi after another storm, Hurricane Delta, hit nearly two months later. At the time, land typically used by grazing cows remained underwater.  

"For most of these people around here," Acevedo said to Baccigalopi, "it's their second or third time they've had to rebuild their home in the last 15 years?"

"From scratch. From absolutely nothing," Baccigalopi replied. "You know, cinder blocks and cement slabs. Yes."

"You have to decide, you know, where you're gonna spend your dollar," she said. "And it's either to fix this place and take the chance of something happening, or not happening, or to try to spend that dollar somewhere else."

Her husband's family has held their land for four generations, but after a record year of storms people living and working on Louisiana's Gulf Coast are having to decide whether to rebuild or retreat.

Those are the questions that fuel the efforts of people like April Newman, a project manager with Louisiana's Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, or CPRA. When Acevedo met her in October, Newman was overseeing a 24/7 operation to expand protective barrier islands where the Gulf of Mexico meets Terrebonne Bay.

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