Responding to Coastal Erosion and Flooding Damages


  • Joan Pope


Louisiana, shore erosion, shore protection, seawalls, coastal armoring, beaches, coastal flooding, coastal management


Throughout recorded history the great seaside centers of culture and commerce have relied upon safe harbors and the stability of their shores for survival. Today's coastline is of economical, social, cultural, and environmental value to communities and to nations. However, shorelines are dynamic and ephemeral places where erosion trends tend to dominate. Development along the shore places the desires of man (to have a safe and stable home) in direct opposition to the natural trends of nature (to erode, transport, and deposit coastal lands).

Human reaction to coastal erosion and flooding problems range from hardening the shore to continually replacing the lost material to limiting or stopping future development. Whatever management and engineering steps are taken should be determined as the result of a well-informed and logical process. Coastal management strategy, including the decision to incorporate shore protection works, should be based upon a clear understanding of the problem, site conditions, and socio-economic expectations. Although the discussion presented here is applicable to all coastal settings; the full integration of geologic insights, engineering technology, and human anticipations is particularly critical in addressing the problems of the rapidly eroding and flood-prone shores of Louisiana.

There are no "silver bullets" for solving coastal flooding and erosion problems. Every human action in the coastal zone has the potential to cause both an enhancing and an adverse reaction. However, when properly evaluated and ration ally considered, there are effective means for minimizing coastal flood and erosion damages. This paper explores the philosophy and issues associated with developing management and engineering responses to coastal erosion and flooding problems.






Special Thematic Section