Rising From the Waters

Rising From the Waters

After hurricane Katrina hit #NewOrleans, it left the city devastated. But a few years later, it had an unexpected benefit. The #NewOrleans #swamptour showcases the richness of nature and gave me an opportunity to witness life in the #swamplands.


New Orleans Swamp Tour

From the waters, rises new life. When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, it brought devastation, killing almost 2000 people and causing more than 80 billion dollars of damage. Just outside of the city, though, the natural disaster has had an unexpected benefit.

Just outside of the city, though, the natural disaster has had an unexpected benefit

The swamplands surrounding the city are an important biological microcosm, home to dozens of species of animals. When the waters rushed through the area in 2005, there was significant damage. But that damage was nature’s way of cleansing the ecosystem.

New Orleans Swamp tour

As I discovered on the swamp tour, a large tract of trees and bushland was washed away by the storm surge but in its place a safe and inhabitable area was created for the smaller animals of the water system. 

in its place a safe and inhabitable area was created for the smaller animals of the water system

We all know how the food chain works – this means that the slightly larger animals suddenly had a steady food supply and the even larger animals were guaranteed meals as well.

The only species in the swamps that didn’t cope well with the floods was the humans. 

The only species in the swamps that didn’t cope well with the floods was the humans

Homes were washed from the riverbanks; fishing boats were pulled from their moorings and sent careening into the gulf; and sadly some local residents drowned in the swell.

from  $25

Honey Island Swamp Tours

Family
 55345 Hwy 90, Slidell, Louisiana 70461, United States
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Remnant from hurricane Katrina
Remnant from hurricane Katrina

It reminds me a lot of the bushfires we have become accustomed to in Australia. Those walls of flames beat their way indiscriminately across vast tracs of land but, where humans count the losses, nature counts its blessings. 

The heat brings cleansing and rejuvenation to the land… it’s us who are left to suffer through the destruction.

New Orleans Swamps Today

To tour the swamplands of Louisiana today is to experience the richness of nature, as aided by Hurricane Katrina. 

We potter along the water in our tin boat, our guide Mike at the helm. On the banks, alligators sun themselves. Some slowly slip back into the water as we come closer, others seem too content in their basking to bother with our presence.

To tour the swamplands of Louisiana today is to experience the richness of nature
Alligator Sunning Itself Along the Banksof the Swamp
Alligator Sunning Itself Along the Banksof the Swamp

Water birds fly overhead, perch by the riverside, or dive into the water seeking food. Turtles sit on rocks or swim in the shallows. Fish jump from the water – perhaps because of the vibrations of the boat, perhaps because they’re being chased in the dark river, or perhaps just because they can. At one point a fish jumps right into our boat and, after a fair bit of slimy flipping, is eventually captured and thrown overboard.

Water-bird


Turtles

For most of our trip, the waterway is wider than I expected, looking more like a river than a swamp. Once we go into a small inlet, however, it takes on a more recognizable appearance. Spanish moss hangs from the trees and tiny green leaves float on top of the water. The branches arch over the water, diffusing the light that scatters through the natural tunnel. 

We can’t see as many animals in here but that just makes us more nervous, wondering where the alligators are if they’re not on the riverbanks.

that just makes us more nervous, wondering where the alligators are 
Swampland

Back out on the larger stretch of water, there are still some locals who have refused to move on after the hurricane. 

Some houses have been fortified against another storm, and fishing boats are primed for their next trip downriver to the sea. A couple of guys in a moored boat look up from their cans of beer to wave and shout a greeting.

Residents who Live Along the Banksof the Swamp

There are less people living here now, we’re told by our guide. It’s much harder to get insurance and the local authorities are stricter on those who moor their houseboats without permits. Many have given up and vowed never to return. The animals are thriving, though, their ecosystem stronger than before. They’ve seen this kind of thing before and they’ll see their way through it again.

You can check out the website for Cajun Encounters, the swamp tour company I used.

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