WZTV FOX 17 - Top Stories
LEEVILLE, LA. - Thousands of acres of land in Louisiana are disappearing due to coastal erosion. On that land are graves from some of the oldest cemeteries in the state. Submerged tombs in Leeville, Louisiana give new meaning to the expression "a watery grave". Piles of barnacle-covered bricks are washing away in the lapping water. The rubble is all that remains of a family cemetery in the small coastal town.
"All over South Louisiana you have these little family plots that people had their family members build as many as 20 or 30 grave sites, some as many as 60, built on high land," says the South LaFourche Levee District's Windell Curole.
Curole's a descendent of those who once called Leeville home. His ancestors are buried in the Crosby family plot, which has been reduced to a patch of crumbling graves along Highway 1, enclosed by a rusty chain-link fence. There's little protection against the environmental threats that inch closer every year.
"That graveyard was in the shade of oak treas and now you don't see an oak in sight," says Curole. "All you see is marsh and open water."
A decade ago, the family cemented over the graveyard, hoping to preserve what was left. Looking at the broken tombstones and grave markers, you can see it offered little protection against the rising waters. Over the past century, the town has subsided roughly 3ft and lost another from rising sea levels. The cause: our intricate levee system that prevents flooding along the Mississippi River. Sediment that built up the delta over 5000 years now dumps right into the gulf. As the coastline erodes from hurricanes and storms, there's nothing to build it back up.
"Adding onto those problems is that we've cut channels, which allow the Gulf of Mexico to get closer to us," says Curole. "We've lost our marsh barriers. We've lost our natural chenieres, our oak ridge barriers. All of these things help keep some of the energy from storms away."
As a result, the coastline is now 30-40 miles closer to the residents of Southeast, Louisiana. Families are forced to move further inland with each generation.
"And it's like most deltas throughout the world," says Curole. "You always have great risk and great opportunity, and in this place you have the extreme of both of them. You have tremendous truck traffic and barge traffic and tug traffic, and yet the risks are taking even the graves away."
In the case of Curole's family plot and the other small graveyards dotting Leeville, that risk has taken its toll.
"You're not only losing your past, but you're losing your future," says Curole. "You're losing everything."
Once a town of 60, only 2 families now call Leeville home. Eventually, they too will move to higher ground, as they watch the memories of their ancestors sink before their very eyes.
Saturday, January 26 2013, 12:13 AM CST
2 appellate court judges are stepping down
May 24, 2013 21:29 GMT
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Two Tennessee appellate court judges have notified Gov. Bill Haslam that they will not run for another term on the bench in the August 2014 retention election.
Patricia J. Cottrell, a judge on the Court of Appeals, and Joseph M. Tipton, who sits on the Court of Criminal Appeals bench, will both leave after September of next year.
The announcements come after the state legislature left Tennessee without a way to replace judges who step down or die when a commission expires at the end of next month.
Members of the soon-to-be-defunct Judicial Nominating Commission will make recommendations for replacements to give to Haslam before the panel expires. Haslam will appoint the replacements from those recommendations.
US durable goods orders rise 3.3 percent in April
WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. orders for long-lasting manufactured goods rebounded in April, buoyed by more demand for military and civilian aircraft and an increase in business investment.
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