In the second installment of our Faces of the Delta series, you will meet Chris Dier: Wetlands restoration advocate, Chalmette resident, and Louisiana culture enthusiast.
Name: Chris Dier
Location: Chalmette, Louisiana
Occupation: Student, University of New Orleans
Tell me about your connection to south Louisiana. I was born in New Orleans East and raised in Chalmette until age 17. My family moved to East Texas after Katrina, but moved back in 2006 to live in a FEMA trailer and rebuild our old house in Chalmette in 2007.
What does south Louisiana mean to you? South Louisiana means “home.” It means everything to me. One of the reasons I get so involved in the community is because it means the world to me. I love the diversity and culture.
What are your favorite things about the area? People. Amazing people! And also food, culture, dialect, history, festivals – Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest, Voodoo Festival!
How has coastal land loss impacted your life? It destroyed my high school, my church, and my home. It destroyed the community in general and I had no one to turn to because everyone was affected. The places I shopped, I ate: the loss of wetlands created the catastrophe of 2005, and it will happen again if things don’t change.
In general, loss of wetlands abolished natural barriers from hurricanes that southeast Louisiana has depended on for centuries.
Talk about why you think coastal restoration efforts are important. Restoration is most important because it protects the lives of people who live there and protects the economy of southeast Louisiana. It protects refineries and other essential aspects of the American economy that would be very damaging to the country if lost forever.
What obstacles do you see hindering restoration? A few things: 1. Government officials who cater to big corporations that are profit-oriented and ignorant of the plight of the coast; 2. The lack of awareness of Americans in general; 3. The Army Corps doesn’t adequately communicate with the people affected by their projects.
What do you fear losing if we don’t take action to restore the Mississippi River Delta? Homes, lives, culture: everything!
What should people around the country know about efforts to rebuild New Orleans and surrounding communities and protect this area from another powerful storm that they don’t know right now? They should know that not everything is back to normal or completed. There is still a lot of work to do. Come visit us! Get informed. Check out websites like www.MRGOmustgo.org or www.Levees.org and educate yourself.