WRKF

Tegan Wendland

Tegan Wendland is a freelance producer with a background in investigative news reporting. She currently produces the biweekly segment, Northshore Focus. 


Those calliope-playing Mississippi riverboats will soon be carrying more than passengers. Scientists are preparing to attach monitors to some boats in an effort to gather more data on the river's water quality.

After big floods like those in 2016 that inundated many homes in the Baton Rouge-area and beyond, sometimes a home buyout is the right choice. People whose homes have flooded multiple times can get money from the federal government to relocate to safer ground. But a new report from an environmental advocacy group finds that those buyouts can take a long time.

As rainfall increases and storms intensify, local officials across Louisiana are looking for ways to protect their citizens. They’re putting up levees and floodwalls and trying to manage all of the water. But floodwater doesn’t follow parish lines, so state officials are working on a solution.

As Hurricane Barry headed for the coast in July, Sharonda Kotton and her family were on edge. They live near Bayou Manchac in Iberville Parish, a densely-wooded rural area just south of Baton Rouge. It floods often.

Rainstorms seem to be getting more intense. In New Orleans, every time it rains, people worry about flooding. A new study from LSU finds that storms in Louisiana are getting bigger and wetter, dropping more rain over a shorter period of time.

WWNO’s Tegan Wendland talked with state climatologist Barry Keim and LSU research associate, Vinny Brown, who looked at climate data going back to the 1960’s.

The Trump administration is making major changes to the Endangered Species Act, which could affect some plants and animals in Louisiana.

The act, passed in the 1970’s, protects endangered plants and animals. At that time, the “pelican state” almost lost its state bird. The brown pelican was on the brink of extinction. Then, officials went to Florida and brought back juvenile pelicans to reestablish them in Louisiana. In 2009 they were officially taken off the list of endangered species.

Louisiana’s coast is a unique mix of cultures. For hundreds of years Europeans, Africans and Native Americans have lived off the land and water. But that land is disappearing, battered by storms and rising seas, and people are migrating north.

Now, the state is trying to preserve some local traditions before they disappear.

The Water Institute is a Baton Rouge-based research institution that works with the state and the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority on issues like land loss and river diversions. One of its former scientists is now under investigation by the FBI.

The Times Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate broke the story. WWNO’s Tegan Wendland talked with reporters Della Hasselle and Bryn Stole about the implications for coastal research.

A number of environmental bills are working their way through the state legislature, and Nola.com/The Times Picayune’s Tristan Baurick is following them.

One bill, swiftly cast aside by the House Natural Resources committee, would have required the state’s most frequent air quality violators to install pollution monitoring systems to track emissions and alert nearby communities.

Ten miles out in the Gulf of Mexico, off the tip of Louisiana, the fumes become overwhelming. "See how it's all rainbow sheen there? So that's oil," says Ian MacDonald, who's guiding us in a tiny fishing boat that's being tossed around by 6-foot waves.

MacDonald is a scientist at Florida State University where he studies oil spills. This one is not a black, sticky slick, but it stretches on for miles. And here, where the murky Mississippi River dumps into the Gulf, it's been leaking for more than 14 years.

The Mississippi River has been at flood stage for months. Levees and spillways keep most homes and businesses safe and dry from the flood waters, but the high water still creates headaches for levee districts and industries like oil and gas, and fisheries.

This week on the Coastal News Roundup, WWNO coastal reporter Travis Lux went to find out how the river creates problems we can’t always see. WWNO’s Tegan Wendland got the details.

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