The anniversary of the second giant hurricane of 2005, Hurricane Rita, brings back some bad memories, because just a few weeks after the devastation attendant upon landfall of Hurricane Katrina, a similar blow was delivered to southwestern Louisiana.
The good news of that event was that after Katrina, the federal government was deeply involved and residents understood to heed the evacuation orders. That made a world of difference in the toll of deaths and injuries, but the damages to coastal communities and the Lake Charles area were significant.
Not least, Hurricane Rita more severely disrupted the energy industry in the Gulf of Mexico, because of the hurricane’s vast expanse before landfall and its path through an area of productive wells. Thus, it’s an irony that nine years later, one of the remarkable stories out of southwestern Louisiana is the boom in petrochemical construction, with several projects worth billions under way. These include both additions to the existing Calcasieu River petrochemical complex and new export terminals for natural gas.
That boom is a striking contrast to the losses of nine years ago, but the resilience of the people of the region was the fundamental factor. “It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come in such a short period of time,” said U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany of Lafayette, who represents the area.
We agree and look forward to a brighter future for southwestern Louisiana.