Last month, floodwaters inundated cars, homes, and businesses throughout New Orleans. For some, including The Broad Theater in Mid-City, it was the second flood in as many years.
A hurricane didn’t cause the floods. Neither did failures of the levees and pumping stations that keep this below-sea-level city from filling up like a bowl. It was something more innocuous, less easy to flee: a spring thunderstorm.
More than 5 inches of rain fell on New Orleans in a seven-hour timeframe early Sunday morning, but the event didn’t make national news. Locals carried on with little fuss, filing damage claims and mopping up floors with practiced resignation. As The Broad Theater tweeted, “we’ve gotten good at this.”
New Orleanians have gotten good at living in what Mayor LaToya Cantrell called “a city that floods.” But that doesn’t make it easy—and by all indications, things are going to get worse before they get better.
To that end, The Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation (LPBF) and Preservation Resource Center (PRC) co-present “Historic Preservation in the Face of Climate Change,” a series of three panel discussions.
The final installment takes place from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. June 19 at the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club ( 732 N. Broad Street).
“With climate change, these rain events are going to be more frequent,” said LPBF spokesperson Rachel Strassel. “How do we live with water and adapt to the changes that are happening, and how do we protect and restore our architectural gems?”
The event brings together three experts who will discuss our changing landscape from a variety of perspectives.
Chris Cook, director of the New Canal Lighthouse Museum, will share the LPBF’s efforts to save Louisiana’s coastline and create multiple lines of defense from catastrophic flooding. Louisette Scott, director of the Department of Planning and Development for Mandeville, will speak about flooding issues on the Northshore. Bryan D. Block, director of the Vieux Carré Commission, will discuss ways to preserve historic buildings from flooding, hail and other weather-related incidents.
“Living in this area, we have such a complex relationship with water,” Strassel said. “A lot of people think, ‘Oh, I can’t do anything about this. It’s up to the Sewerage and Water Board.’ But it’s not just on them. We have to plan for these things and build landscapes that are able to drain water properly. It’s not a one-time thing of cleaning your storm drain, moving your car to neutral ground and hoping for the best.”