The Gulf Coast of the United States is a wonder. Its marshlands are breeding grounds and nurseries for ocean life that keep the nation’s fishing and shrimping industries afloat. Its corridors of petrochemical plants and offshore drilling platforms are the lifeblood of the fossil fuel industry. Its pristine beaches and warm breezes drive the tourism industry.
But these qualities make it especially vulnerable — to sea level rise and increasingly intense hurricanes, to economic devastation and pollution, to poor health outcomes for those living near industrial facilities and rampant development that destroys fragile ecosystems.
Southerly tells the stories of challenges and solutions in the Gulf States of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. We bring context to the constant changes, and cover communities often overlooked, like tribal nations who have called the coast home for generations, and small, rural places that don’t receive the same attention and aid as large cities.
Our Gulf Coast correspondent is Carly Berlin. If you live on the coast and have a story tip or know of an issue that isn’t covered enough, contact us using this form.
- How to navigate FEMA aid: Advice from a former employee
We’ve been fielding your questions about navigating federal assistance after Hurricane Ida. A longtime FEMA employee has some answers.
- ‘Do I even qualify?’: Deadline looms for $500 FEMA aid following Ida
The deadline for Louisiana residents impacted by Hurricane Ida to apply for Critical Needs Assistance from FEMA is Wednesday, September 22. But applicants’ experiences have varied widely, leaving many to wonder what makes someone eligible for the aid.
- ‘Infrastructure apartheid’: Africatown’s fight against toxins, new toll bridge
The historic Alabama town is already surrounded by polluting industries. An impact study says traffic avoiding a proposed toll bridge would only make the air more toxic.
- ‘Life-threatening situation’: FEMA says power outages—not just storm damage—may qualify Louisiana residents for evacuation aid
Earlier this week, the agency said that only people with damaged homes would qualify.
- A year after Hurricane Laura, southwest Louisiana ‘still in limbo’
As extreme weather events become more frequent and intense, multiple disasters in southwest Louisiana during the pandemic show how unequipped disaster aid systems are during compounding events.
- Offshore oil and gas worker fatalities are underreported by federal safety agency
Nearly half of known Gulf of Mexico worker fatalities didn’t fit the agency’s reporting criteria.
- Toxic floodwaters threatened a Florida jail. Nearly 800 were locked inside.
Many rural jails and prisons face environmental pollution and flooding, but they aren’t often considered in emergency planning.
- ‘Homesickness for a place you haven’t left’: A conversation with Stephanie Soileau
We spoke with the Lake Charles-raised author about her debut short story collection, Last One Out Shut Off the Lights.
- Louisiana government researcher says she was fired for raising alarm about dolphin deaths
According to studies, a major coastal project could lead to more dolphin fatalities. This story was published in partnership with Louisiana Illuminator. Gulf Coast researchers are…
- ‘Communities shouldn’t have to rely on miracles’: A conversation with Samantha Montano
We sat down with the disaster researcher to discuss her forthcoming book, Disasterology: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the Climate Crisis.
- ‘The water’s coming in’: How Grand Isle residents are coping as their home washes into the sea
Without more sand, Louisiana’s barrier islands are shrinking at a rapid rate as sea levels rise, and becoming more costly to maintain. This story was published…
- How we made a mental health resource guide for southwest La. residents
Mental health was a recurring theme in our series on hurricane recovery during the pandemic. Download the guide here. After Hurricanes Laura and Delta hit Lake…
- ‘People are wiped out’: Costs pile up as hurricane season begins
Hurricanes, a winter storm, and spring floods have left low-income Gulf Coast residents exhausted and cash strapped before this year’s season, with no significant aid in sight.
- ‘Hurricane fatigue’: Gulf Coast emergency managers still rebuilding as they prep for more storms
Local officials are working to inform the public while still recovering from 2020’s record-breaking season—all on tight budgets.
- Love bugs
We asked readers to submit memories and reflections about what fireflies and cicadas mean to you. Here are some of them: