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Weathering the Storm - Part 2 (VOA Connect Episode 208)


VOA – CONNECT
EPISODE # 208
AIR DATE: 01 07 2022
TRANSCRIPT

OPEN ((VO/NAT))
((Banner))
Weathering the Storm - Part 2
((SOT))
((Chris Brunet
Resident, Isle de Jean Charles))

Southeast Louisiana is just littered with canals carved out for pipelines for the production of oil and gas.
Whenever they dug these canals, they just created more avenues for water to come in. It just speeded up the process. And by the time we noticed how bad it was, it was actually almost too late.
((Open Animation))

BLOCK A


((PKG)) WEATHERING THE STORM - PART 2
((TRT: 20:30))
((Topic Banner:
Weathering the Storm))
((Reporter/Producer:
Arturo Martinez))
((Camera:
Arturo Martinez, Steve Baragona))
((Map:
Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana))
((Main character
: 1 male))
((Sub characters: 5 male; 3
female))
((NATS/MUSIC))
((Text-over-video:
A small island in the southern U.S. state of Louisiana is vanishing into the sea.
Isle de Jean Charles is home to Native Americans whose ancestors found refuge there after the 1830 Indian Removal Act.
Now, the island is a victim of climate change, hastened by damage caused by oil and gas infrastructure.
Many residents will be resettled, one of the first mass movement plans in the United States prompted by the climate crisis.))
((NATS/MUSIC))
((Locator: Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana))
((Chris Brunet
Resident, Isle de Jean Charles))

My family has been over here for several generations. We would be the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Indians of Louisiana. This is where I'm from. This is who I am. This is what I know. Because I just never lived no other place but Isle de Jean Charles.
((NATS/MUSIC))
((Robert Billiot
Former Resident, Isle de Jean Charles))

Me, I just love it down here. I was born and raised down here and then I just love it down here. It's quiet and peaceful. But there ain't got that many people living no more down here. When I was down here, they had probably 300 and something people, back in our younger days.
((NATS/MUSIC))
((Albert Naquin
Chief, Biloxi
-Chitimacha-Choctaw))
That's where I was born and raised, further to the end over there. It’s been gone since 1965. Hurricane Betsy just decided to take our whole house away.
If I'd stayed on the island, I would just be as poor as them because every so many years, you have to replace all your appliances and repair your home and you can't get ahead.
These are all my family right here. Right here was the grocery store that we had. It was a grocery store, a dance hall, a church, a school and a ballroom.
We had a lovers' lane too, right there by that big oak trees. People come, park and made love. We'd pass and we'd holler. We were silly, I guess.
((NATS/MUSIC))
((Chris Brunet
Resident, Isle de Jean Charles))

At one time, whenever we got together for a family celebration that my Uncle Roch Naquin would put together, we could easily sit, you know, 35 people. And before that started to dwindle down, you know, I realized that sometimes we'd get down to maybe 12, maybe 15 and like, "Oh, wow".
((NATS/MUSIC))
((Robert Billiot
Former Resident, Isle de Jean Charles))

The water just kept coming up and up and up and it just keep flowing everywhere. That's why all the kids and grandkids, they just move out because right now, when a storm comes, a real bad one, you've got mud everywhere.
Well, I think it has got a lot to do with climate change too because you ain't got no more land around here. And that's from that salt water just eating up everything.
((NATS/MUSIC))
((Albert Naquin
Chief, Biloxi
-Chitimacha-Choctaw))
You know, I say, the white man chased us down the bayous and then now, Mother Nature is going to chase us go up the bayou.
((NATS/MUSIC))
((Chris Brunet
Resident, Isle de Jean Charles))

What is climate change? For us, the major factor would be erosion of the land. Because, you know, the Gulf of Mexico is pushing north. And so, with the running tide being constant, well, the land in itself doesn’t have the chance to hold itself together against that movement.
And then, you have the man-made error that plays in climate change, where all of these canals were dug.
Southeast Louisiana is just littered with canals carved out for pipelines for the production of oil and gas.
Whenever they dug these canals, they just created more avenues for water to come in. It just speeded up the process. And by the time we noticed how bad it was, it was actually almost too late. The land was sacrificed for prosperity.
((NATS/MUSIC))

BREAK ONE
BUMP IN ((ANIM))



BLOCK B


((NATS/MUSIC))
((Donald Dardar
Fisherman, Pointe-au-Chien))

Years back, all this right here was all fresh water here.
Now it's all brackish, salt water, more salt than sweet, fresh.
Do you see them houses to our right in the far distance over there? That's Isle de Jean Charles. They don't have much land between them.
Years back, it was all solid land right here.
Well, according to my map, you could see it was like a lake before. I don't know what year this is, you know, but it shows all the land they had years back compared to what they got right now. Now yeah, mostly blue.
That's a pipeline. The line runs underneath there. They've got the signs to mark where the pipeline passes but that's it.
All these canals right here were cut here for the oil and gas companies.
((NATS))
((Patty Ferguson-Bohnee
Attorney, Pointe-au-Chien))

Isle de Jean Charles is over there. You can kind of see it over the trees.
Look, you can see it. So, where we are is the fastest eroding basin in the United States. You can see the land disappearing before your eyes, which is the home to Indigenous peoples, the island, Pointe-aux-Chenes and Bayou Lafourche. We are the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe. So, that's this area that we're in right now and we're related to Isle de Jean Charles. We have a lot of common ancestors and then our tribal members intermarry with Isle de Jean Charles.
This is my great grandma. And this is an individual, Warren, who they called a Rougarou [wolfman].
This one is pre contact with Europeans.
This is 1932 when they first discovered oil and gas.
And this is 2010, all the loss.
And this is a projection, like if nothing is done to the area by 2065.
((NATS))
((Patty Ferguson-Bohnee
Attorney, Pointe-au-Chien))

That's part of the Morganza [Control Structure], is this levee.
And so you can see the island [Isle de Jean Charles] excluded from this levee. That won't protect them from, you know, all the storms that keep coming in.
The Army Corps of Engineers came down here and Mr. Albert, the chief from the island, tried to meet with them to persuade them to include the island in the Morganza-to-the-Gulf [Hurricane Protection] levee system. And it was decided that it wasn't cost-effective to include the island people in that levee system.
((NATS/MUSIC))
((Patty Ferguson-Bohnee
Attorney, Pointe-au-Chien))

Deciding that the island wasn't important enough to include in that levee system is a forced relocation because a lot of people have already had to leave because of the storms and the flooding that's been caused by that. I mean, for a small storm, the road floods.
((NATS/MUSIC))
((Chris Brunet
Resident, Isle de Jean Charles))

They were saying, "We're going to let a community like Isle de Jean Charles go." Now, if we'd have been rich people with a large tax base, I'm sure that would have changed everything. But Chief Albert Naquin has to protect that culture and he is the one that has been promoting relocation for the last 20 years.
((NATS/MUSIC))
((Albert Naquin
Chief, Biloxi
-Chitimacha-Choctaw))
We got the money in January 2016. The island for the resettlement was granted $48.2 million.
((NATS/MUSIC))
((Locator:

New Isle Resettlement
65 kilometers north of Isle de Jean Charles))
((NATS/MUSIC))
((Chris Brunet
Resident, Isle de Jean Charles))

I know I'll be resettling over here with my nephew and my niece but it's different from what I'm used to. It's not my home front. It'll be a while before that there takes place.
((NATS))
((Chris Brunet
Resident, Isle de Jean Charles))

Hey, how are you doing, dude? My name is Chris Brunet.
I'm from Isle de Jean Charles.
((Steve
Contractor))

Okay. Steve.
((Pat Forbes
Louisiana Office of Community Development))

Chris is going to live here in six to eight months.
((Chris Brunet
Resident, Isle de Jean Charles))

Yeah, whenever this here is going to be completed, I'll be moving over here.
((Steve
Contractor))

Good.
((Chris Brunet
Resident, Isle de Jean Charles))

Oh, yeah.
Okay, thank you.
((NATS))
((Pat Forbes
Louisiana Office of Community Development))

Where we're walking right now will be houses in less than a year. We're thinking maybe 50 or so but we don't know yet.
It's the first time that we have tried to move a community en masse like this. But the island has lost about 98% of its landmass since the 1950s.
Do I think it's unfair? I think it's terrible that we've got coastal communities all around the world, all over this country and in our state who are going to be faced with some similar decisions. While we hate that we have to do this, to create this opportunity, we're glad that we can.
((NATS))
((Pat Forbes
Louisiana Office of Community Development))

Nobody wants to leave their ancestral home.
((Chris Brunet
Resident, Isle de Jean Charles))

That's right. It's not a celebration. It's a decision that brings me over here and not a celebration or an opportunity.
((Pat Forbes
Louisiana Office of Community Development))

Right.
((Chris Brunet
Resident, Isle de Jean Charles))

And you know, and in spite the good intentions, this here still has the flavor where Native Americans are dealing with the federal government, where it's not you all as individuals that want to think maybe opposite of us or discriminative of us, but it's just something that is just built in up in there. So hopefully, that in this process right here maybe there is something that could be learned.
((Pat Forbes
Louisiana Office of Community Development))

I mean, I understand Chris's distrust in the process. I don't know if coastal living is only going to be for the rich in the future but if wealthy people decide to go there and pay the $20,000 a year in flood insurance that they're going to have to pay, that's a different situation from having folks who can't afford all that, who in many cases can't afford to have their homes elevated. And so when it floods, their home is filled with mud and they spend two weeks getting the mud out of it. Those are the folks we're giving an opportunity to move to a new community that's safer and higher and drier.
((NATS/MUSIC))
((Chris Brunet
Resident, Isle de Jean Charles))

This here is something new. It's voluntary and I did speak about it, you know, with my nephew and niece. And we agreed as a family to be part of the resettlement.
((NATS))
((Chris Brunet
Resident, Isle de Jean Charles))

I don't want to have to deal with that.
((Juliette Brunet
Raised by her uncle, Chris Brunet))

Was it hard for you?
((Chris Brunet
Resident, Isle de Jean Charles))

Yeah. But I guess it's better to deal with it this way than something at the last minute.
((Juliette Brunet
Raised by her uncle, Chris Brunet))

Yeah.
((Chris Brunet
Resident, Isle de Jean Charles))

Say, like if something were to happen and we were to get a major storm that would be a direct hit and, you know, all would be lost. I mean, what could be done? Not only for us as an individual family but for the community as a whole. I think this gives us a chance to make decisions and be a part of that change instead of it's something that's just, you know, taken away from us.
((Juliette Brunet
Raised by her uncle, Chris Brunet))

Yeah.
((Chris Brunet
Resident, Isle de Jean Charles))

And that's not even the island's fault, you know.
((Juliette Brunet
Raised by her uncle, Chris Brunet))

It’s yours.
((Chris Brunet
Resident, Isle de Jean Charles))

No.
((NATS))

BREAK TWO
BUMP IN ((ANIM))


BLOCK C


((NATS/MUSIC))
((Courtesy:
AP))
((News anchors’ voices over))
We do begin tonight with this Category 4 hurricane...
Tropical Storm Ida...Entire communities cut off...
The urgent evacuations in Louisiana...
The whipping winds of Hurricane Ida...
16 years to the day after Hurricane Katrina...
Desperation in Louisiana...
((Text-over-video:
One month later, on August 26th, 2021, Hurricane Ida made landfall.
Ida was the second-most intense and damaging storm to hit Louisiana on record.
Pointe-aux-Chenes and Isle de Jean Charles lay directly in its path.))
((NATS/MUSIC))
((Chris Brunet
Resident, Isle de Jean Charles))

It's heartbreaking. I've never seen this much damage after a storm. Ida would have to be the worst for us. And so I am fortunate that I got, you know, something to work with. My heart is broken for other people that lost everything, that's coming home to nothing. Look at my aunt's house. It's gone. Just gone. So, this here is something different.
((NATS))
((Driver
Local friend))

Chris, we've never seen anything like this.
((Chris Brunet
Resident, Isle de Jean Charles))

No, no, never, never.
((Driver
Local friend))

Man, it's sad to go ride down the bayou right now, just look and just see...
((Chris Brunet
Resident, Isle de Jean Charles))

Everywhere.
((Driver
Local friend))

Everybody you know. Everybody you know.
((Chris Brunet
Resident of Isle de Jean Charles))

((Driver
Local friend))

Everybody got something to their house.
((Chris Brunet
Resident, Isle de Jean Charles))

Oh, yeah. I'm going to wait till after the water is back on.
And then we're going to start our cleanup up in there, you know.
((Driver
Local friend))

And the water back down here yet?
((Chris Brunet
Resident, Isle de Jean Charles))

Nope. Nope. Give me the water, I'm good. I'm back home.
((Driver
Local friend))

All right, Chris.
((Chris Brunet
Resident, Isle de Jean Charles))

Sam, you take care. Hey, thank you, thank you for that information.
((NATS))
((Chris Brunet
Resident of Isle de Jean Charles))

I'm coming back home. Because this here is my home, my only home. This is all I do have. At the resettlement that's being worked on, whenever that's going to be completed, then I'll go over there. But until then, this is home over here.
((NATS/MUSIC))
((Chris Brunet
Resident of Isle de Jean Charles))

I didn't think that the resettlement was going to take place in my time. I actually figured it would have took place maybe two generations after me and that I wouldn't have seen what I'm seeing today. But it is. But you know, our local editor of the Houma Courier said something. He said, "They're not refugees but they are pioneers.” Because this here is just an example of some things to come in other places. It is a response to the climate change, of the changes that going on in this environment and that $48 million will not stop what's going on through coastal erosion. It is just a response.
((NATS/MUSIC))
((Text-over-video:

Chief Albert Naquin no longer supports resettlement plans because of disagreements with the state.
The New Isle homes are projected to be finished in 2022.))


((PKG)) CONNECT WITH - KASSIE CULBERTSON
((TRT: 03:00))
((Topic Banner:
Connect with - Kassie Culbertson))
((Reporter/Camera:
Arturo Martínez))
((Map:
Jennings, Louisiana))
((Main character: 1 female))
((NATS/MUSIC))
((Kassie Culbertson
Restaurant Worker))

My name is Kassie Culbertson. I live in southwest Louisiana and I work at a local Subway [American fast food restaurant].
((NATS))
((Kassie Culbertson
Restaurant Worker))

Oh, everybody knows everybody here and if they don't know you, they know your grandma because they've been drinking coffee with her for 20 years. Yes, the community is very, very tight. Everybody knows everybody.
((NATS))
((Kassie Culbertson
Restaurant Worker))

We anticipate on getting hurricanes here, especially after last year when we had three hurricanes come back-to-back. Within a month, we got hit and then a horrible freeze had come in. It was just the most devastating thing I have ever seen in my life.
((NATS))
((Kassie Culbertson
Restaurant Worker))

I lost my home. I lost my car. I had to leave for a little while because I had nowhere to go. And then after that, slowly starting to establish myself with no money, no means of money, no means of transportation. It was very, very difficult thing to have to crawl before you can walk, so to speak.
((NATS))
((Kassie Culbertson
Restaurant Worker))

I lost a lot of family that year. I lost, I lost a lot that year. Both of my grandparents had died from COVID. My wife's mother had died. Her brother had died. And those were some of the most horrible things that I had to live through while we were going through these hurricanes, while we were going through COVID, while we were having ice storms and all kinds of things like that. And it really just took a big toll. But it took a big toll on a lot of people.
((NATS))
((Kassie Culbertson
Restaurant Worker))

So, I hate leaving from here but at the same time, the stress of having to worry about what's going to happen next, you know, it keeps me worried, makes me want to not be here. Maybe just come for vacation.
((NATS))
((Kassie Culbertson
Restaurant Worker))

I actually have plans of moving somewhere else. By the end of this year, I want to be up north.
((NATS/MUSIC))

CLOSING BUMPER ((ANIM))
voanews.com/connect

NEXT WEEK ((VO/NAT))
((Banner))
In coming weeks….
Freedom of Movement
((SOT))
((Tracie Garacochea
Adaptive Skateboarder))

The lady who’s chair I tried, said to me, “A wheelchair is just a tool.” And that made sense to me. It’s just a tool. It took me probably a half an hour to walk a block and now I can, I can get around just like everybody else. A wheelchair improved the quality of my life and it gave me a sport. It is like, I’m going to cry. It’s just, that moment was one of the best in my life.
((NATS/MUSIC))


BREAK THREE
BUMP IN ((ANIM))


SHOW ENDS

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