Island Road is the only road connecting Isle de Jean Charles with the rest of Louisiana. The island is disappearing into the Gulf of Mexico. In the past few years, the gravel that holds the 3-mile road above sea level has slowly eroded into the saltwater and created jagged edges that leave only one lane. Credit: Stacy Kranitz.


A US community is given a government grant to leave, as climate change is helping to make their homes unlivable...

A small community living deep in the marshy bayous of Southern Louisiana are to become America's first formally recognised climate change refugees.

The people of the Isle de Jean Charles, a spit of land with only one road in and out, have been given a $48m (£36m) US government grant to resettle an entire community battling with the consequences of climate change.

It is the first time federal funds have been used this way.

But many of the island's approximately 100 residents are members of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Native American tribe whose ancestors have been on the land for generations and consider it sacred.

For them, the prospect of starting a new life elsewhere is deeply disturbing.

Resident Chris Brunet told Sky News: "The thing I am really sad about is the cemetery. My great grandfather was the last to be buried there. I'll have to leave him behind." 

"My ancestors lived off the land and the water here, through good times and bad.

"I've made the decision to go but a little of me will stay behind…it's where I belong."

The Isle de Jean Charles is built on sediment, which compacts or sinks naturally over time. 

That subsidence has been made worse by oil and gas extraction.

The combination of those problems with the rising sea levels caused by climate change means that the island is disappearing at an alarming rate.

Scientists predict that in just 10 years it could be unlivable.

Tribal secretary Chantel Commardelle has already left.

Now, with a heavy heart, she is trying to persuade other residents, including her own elderly grandparents, to do the same.

She said: "We are the face of climate change."

But there are divisions emerging within this close community. 

The move is voluntary not mandatory, and some are insisting they will stay.

Hilton Chaisson said: "I lived here all my life, I will die here."

Scientists at the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium say that the problems in their state will eventually be replicated all over coastal regions of the US.

Florida is considered to be particularly at risk.

Marine ecologist Professor Nancy Rabalais said: "This is not the last time we will be telling this story.

"To me it's just another symptom of the human footprint on the earth."  

The people of Isle de Jean Charles do not yet know where they will be moving to.

They don't have long to decide.

By Hannah Thomas-Peter, US Correspondent


original story HERE


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  • David Pike
    commented 2016-09-18 12:12:22 -0700
    Your correct Kat! The writer of this article definitely did not look up the definition of “refugee”. But it seems that this is the title they all are putting on displaced American citizens within our borders… They need to find a more appropriate title…
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