Lafourche Levee Systems Withheld Most Water from Ida

For all the damage left behind by Hurricane Ida, matters could have been made much worse if the levee system of South Lafourche had failed, but the levees held strong when it mattered most, according to an article from HoumaToday that details the strength of Lafourche’s levees.

On August 30, 2021, it was reported by the Associated Press that Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards examined a preliminary survey of the state’s levees, and he reached the conclusion that the levee systems, thankfully, had done “exactly as they intended and held the water out during Hurricane Ida.”

Hurricane Ida initially made its landfall on the shores of Port Fourchon on August 29, 2021. When it touched land, it was a vigorously strong Category 4 storm with winds of 150 mph. These finds blew down countless trees and decimated many homes in its path, but they were not able to penetrate the South Lafourche Levee system despite facing a particularly high storm surge of 12 to 15 feet.

Windell Curole is the executive director of the South Lafourche Levee District, and after he had spent hours looking over the Lafourche levee system in late September, he had said, “it’s still amazing looking at what took place and the power of that storm. This levee was originally designed for a strong Category 2 or a weak 3. It was a close call. There were no guarantees.”

Curole continued to detail how essential the levee system’s foundation was throughout the roughest parts of the storm by saying, “ We knew the winds were extremely strong for an extremely long time. We didn’t get a chance to get to the pump station and the floodgates for 18 hours. I’ve never seen South Lafourche look so bad. That wind came in and just tore it up. If we would’ve had a levee breach, we think people would have died. You can’t move when the wind is blowing like it was. There would have been 5 or 6 feet of water in some of those houses. We are very fortunate that didn’t happen.”

The news of Lafourche’s successful levees was well-received being that the United States Corps of Army Engineers had decertified south Lafourche’s hurricane-protection system after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. They had attributed the decertification to the levees lying too low to be able to provide adequate protection.

At one time, the ring levee in South Lafourche was only 13 feet high in the south and nearly 8 feet high in the north, but after residents passed a 1-cent sales tax in 2015, the system was appropriately elevated. A new building program was created in the district to raise the levee to at least 16 feet and 13 feet above sea level on the south and north ends, respectively.

Additionally, praise came in from Washington to celebrate the Lafourche levee’s strength, as it was reported that United States Representative Garret Graves, R-Baton Rouge, praised Curole and the entire district for taking the time necessary and putting in additional effort to improve the levee system. He said, “Curole and the Levee District worked with the citizens of Lafourche Parish and the State of Louisiana to help invest in better hurricane-protection projects for our community. Despite the headwinds of cease-and-desist letters, legal threats, and government red tape, they succeeded. They knew that if they could get the Larose to Golden Meadow system elevated, lives, homes, businesses, and communities could be spared from future storms. The levees held, and their effort saved a lot of lives and prevented severe destruction.”

It’s certainly affirming to learn that despite experiencing some of the toughest storm conditions South Louisiana has seen in some time, that our vital levee systems are maintaining the peace by doing what they’re built to do: protect and withhold.

For more Louisiana-related articles, click here.

Fall Recipe: Chicken Braised with Cider

With the fall season upon us, it’s time to fire up the oven to cook up your more vegetable-based dishes and savory meals that prioritize flavor above all. Thankfully, this cider braised chicken fall recipe from Food52 hits all of those points and tastes great while doing it. It’s all thanks to the autumnal collection of chicken thighs, apples, and onions residing in a bubbling cider sauce with savory-sweet thyme infusing the flavor of the chicken throughout the cooking process. You’ll top the whole meal off by serving it atop some crust-laden bread or mashed potatoes so that your side dish can soak up the savory sauce in all its goodness.

Fall Recipe Ingredients:

  • 4 bone-in chicken thighs with chicken skin still attached
  • 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil
  • A pinch of Kosher Salt (to taste)
  • 4 small yellow onions (halved & peeled)
  • 2-3 small Fuji, Mutsu, or Stayman Winesap apples (cored & halved)
  • 8 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 cup of chicken (or vegetable) stock
  • 1 cup of dry hard cider (can substitute non-alcoholic)
  • Brad, noodles, or potatoes for serving

Directions:

  1. You’ll want to begin this recipe by preheating your oven to 400°F. While it’s busy heating up, you’ll prep your chicken thighs by first patting them dry with a paper towel to remove the excess oil, water, and juices.
  2. Next, take a large, ovenproof skillet of at least 10 inches in diameter and heat it over medium-high heat until it’s properly hot. Once it is, add oil and swirl the skillet to coat the entire bottom with oil. You’ll then add your chicken thighs to the skillet with the skin side of the thighs facing down. Sprinkle the thighs with a pinch of kosher salt, and sear them for three minutes. Afterward, add your onion halves (cut side down), and sear the thighs for another five minutes. Feel free to rotate the pan as needed in order to brown the chicken evenly, but don’t disturb the chicken or onions when doing this.
  3. At this point, you will use some kitchen tongs to flip the onions to their reverse side and check the bottom of the chicken thighs to ensure that they’re golden. If they are, flip the thighs as well; if they’re not browned yet, wait another minute or so. Once the onions and chicken are flipped you may add your apple pieces to the pan with the cut side facing down. Scoot the chicken and onions to the side of the skillet as needed so that you can ensure the apples are receiving enough heat.
  4. Throw in your thyme sprigs to the pan and season everything with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook the apples for 4-7 minutes or until they’re evenly browned and then flip them over.
  5. Now you can carefully pour in your cider. Note: once added to the heating element, the cider will bubble vigorously. You’ll let the contents of the skillet simmer for 4-8 minutes or until the cider you poured in is reduced by half. Add your chicken or vegetable stock, and bring it all to a boil.
  6. After it’s boiling, use a potholder and transfer the skillet to the oven. Roast it for 10-15 minutes, until the chicken thighs reach an internal temperature of 165°F on an instant-read thermometer.
  7. Additionally, you can pierce the thighs with a knife to determine if they’re fully cooked. If the emitting juices have a clear coloration, you can consider them cooked. Though, it’s always nice to have peace of mind by double-checking with a digital instant thermometer.
  8. Take the skillet from the oven, and serve the chicken, onions, and thyme atop a starch base such as crusty bread, noodles, or roasted potatoes. You’ll do this so that the base can soak up all the sauces from the chicken.
  9. Enjoy!

For more delicious fall recipes, click here.

The Best Islands Located Within the United States

The secret’s out! Your next island getaway doesn’t require you to search through desk drawers for your passport, and it’s all thanks to Travel + Leisure and their 2021 World’s Best Awards. This year, the travel publication has curated a list of the Top 15 Islands in the Continental United States.

Each year, Travel + Leisure issues their acclaimed World’s Best Awards where the T+L readership is surveyed about the best travel experiences around the globe. What results is a hefty list of 64 total categories announcing the top U.S. national parks, airlines, airports, car-rental agencies, cities, cruise ships, destination spas, hotels, hotel brands, islands, tour operators, and more from around the globe.

For this year’s Best Islands in the Continental U.S. Ranking, the East Coast had quite the spotlighted feature with a majority of the top 15 spots going to the eastern seaboard. Most notably is the obvious standout that is Florida, as “the Sunshine State” claimed five of the top island spots. Though ultimately, South Carolina’s Hilton Head Island topped the list with overwhelming support for the much-celebrated weather, scenery, and atmosphere in which to enjoy days on the beach, town, or golf course. If you’re looking for inspiration for your next vacation outing, check out the full list here and the rankings below.

  1. Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts
  2. Outer Banks, North Carolina
  3. Sanibel Island, Florida
  4. Block Island, Rhode Island
  5. Captiva Island, Florida
  6. Florida Keys, Florida
  7. Mackinac Island, Michigan
  8. Mount Desert Island, Maine
  9. Golden Isles, Georgia
  10. Nantucket, Massachusetts
  11. Longboat Key, Florida
  12. San Juan Islands, Washington
  13. Amelia Island, Florida
  14. Kiawah Island, South Carolina
  15. Hilton Head, South Carolina

As you can see above, there are plenty of island experiences for United States citizens to find and enjoy without ever stepping foot in an airport’s international terminal, and while many of those islands listed are generally located in a similar area of the country, they each offer a specific ambiance and experience that cannot be found elsewhere.

Furthermore, it is clear to see that the Travel + Leisure readership didn’t discriminate against groups of islands making their way onto the list as Washington State’s archipelago, the San Juan Islands made a high-ranking placement as the only representative of the Pacific Northwest. Additionally, Georgia’s Golden Isles, which consists of Little St. Simons Island, Jekyll Island, Sea Island, and St. Simons Island, was also featured as #7 on the list, and the notorious Florida Keys rounded off the top ten.

This year’s survey, which was developed by the editors of Travel + Leisure in association with the M&RR research firm, was administered to the publication’s readership from January 11 through May 10, 2021. The editors note that for the Islands list in particular, that while the survey was administered at a time in which many destinations worldwide were lifting COVID-19 restrictions to travel, accommodations, etc, they still believe their data to be a true reflection of the date measured. This is because the survey traditionally allows readers to reflect on the past three years of travel experiences when responding.

For those living in the land-locked states around the country, the thought of vacationing on a serene, sun-warmed beach often is set on an international isle, but it turns out that the United States is home to several much-sought-after islands. These top 15 destinations are all located within the continental United States, meaning that the chart-topping Hawaiian Islands don’t cast an overbearing shadow on this year’s most popular U.S. islands and all of their amenities.

For more travel-related news and information, click here.

 

 

UL Lafayette Among the Nation’s “Best Colleges & Universities”

Many of Louisiana’s colleges and universities received some national recognition recently as the U.S. News & World Report’s 2022 edition of “Best Colleges” was released and awarded numerous top rankings to the state’s institutions of higher learning. UL Lafayette was listed amongst the top 391 colleges and universities in the nation, making its student body, faculty, and staff quite proud– according to a press release from the school.

In total, 1,466 four-year colleges and universities were assessed by U.S. News & World Report, where they considered the academic reputation of an institution, retention and graduation rates, social mobility, facility resources, student and faculty ratio, ACT and SAT scores of admitted students, and alumni giving. This particular ranking is of “national universities,” which is defined as being a post-secondary learning institution that emphasizes research and offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees.

In addition to this, the U.S. News & World Report’s Best National Universities are founded on the basis of considering the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. With that being said, in addition to UL Lafayette, the Louisiana colleges and universities below made the following placements on the list for Best National Universities:

#42                  Tulane University | New Orleans, LA

# 172               Louisiana State University–Baton Rouge | Baton Rouge, LA

#202                Loyola University New Orleans | New Orleans, LA

# 277               Louisiana Tech University | Ruston, LA

# 299-#391     University of Louisiana at Lafayette | Lafayette, LA

# 299-#391     University of Louisiana–Monroe | Monroe, LA

# 299-#391     University of New Orleans | New Orleans, LA

When news of UL Lafayette’s placement was made public, many of the university’s various programs received additional acclaim such as the school’s undergraduate business program, undergraduate nursing program, undergraduate computer science program, and their undergraduate engineering programs at schools that grant doctoral degrees.

When UL Lafayette’s vice president for enrollment management, Dr. DeWayne Bowie, was interviewed about the school’s placement, he commented, “the rankings underscore the University’s success in many areas, including its quality, academically challenging degree programs, dedicated faculty members who deliver those programs, and ongoing commitment to providing a campus and learning environment that attracts high-caliber students.”

In addition to the annual guidebook, US News also recently released their list for the “Best Value School,” which ranks universities on the quality of the program vs the cost of attendance, and they’ve also ranked the nation’s Liberal Arts Colleges.  These rankings are paired with several other resources from the news publication such as articles on how to “make college cheaper,” “how to apply to college,” and many other much-sought-after articles and guides. These resources and lists are ultimately put together in the 2022 edition of the U.S. News Best Colleges Guidebook, an invaluable guide to all things postsecondary from prospective students and families.

Outside of Louisiana’s most notable National Colleges, the state’s “best colleges,” as indicated by U.S. News & World Report are:

The publication made a distinction of the state’s mixture of research universities, mid-sized colleges, and small liberal arts colleges not only being located in various areas state-wide but also within its larger cities. For instance, New Orleans was heralded for being a centerpiece hub of higher education institutions with the city having ten colleges and universities on the list within the Crescent City’s limits.

There’s never quite been a time like the present to be benefiting from an education from the great state of Louisiana, and it’s encouraging to see that sentiment be shared on the national stage.

For more education-related information, click here.

After 107 years, Chauvin Grocery is Destroyed by Hurricane Ida

When Hurricane Ida left historical amounts of damage and devastation in its path, some of the state’s more historic structures were irreparably damaged, and according to an article from HoumaToday, Cecil Lapeyrouse’s 107-year-old Chauvin grocery is one of those lost community structures that is particularly tough to see go.

Hurricane Ida, the ravaging Category 4 storm, had 150-mph winds that swept much of Southeastern Louisiana in its path, including (but not limited to) sheds, construction sites, gas tanks, pieces of road and highways, and so much more. It was this type of debris that struck the 107-year-old store, and its roof was pulled off in the massive winds.

One of the more devastating aspects of the loss of Cecil Lapeyrouse’s Grocery is the fact that this single structure, one that has stood tall in Chauvin, Louisiana offering its small community a reliable source of food, produce, and service, has stood by many other disasters for over a century. And it’s that massive period of time that is so striking; as the article highlights, this grocery store stood by as a titan, making it through two world wars, depressions, various storms, and pandemics, yet it was no match for Ida.

Many Louisiana citizens have been seriously affected by the damage from Hurricane Ida, particularly in the Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes. If you or someone you know is in need of FEMA resources, please see this resource.

In the weeks that have passed since the storm made landfall, there have been few silver linings sprinkled throughout the recovery process of an entire corner of Louisiana. Some of these linings have been community members banding together, the city of Houma hosting a “Where the Heart Is Hurricane Ida relief event,”  and even Louisiana’s food stamp recipients seeing disaster assistance added to the SNAP benefits. Despite these little moments of hope, owner Cecil Lapeyrouse doesn’t see a promising future to the fallen Grocery anytime soon, but he is hopeful of the coming years.

He told reporters, “It’s never going to be like it was, you know? You’ll always see remnants of ‘Oh, that was done for Ida. … It’s never going to be back like it was. I can guarantee you that we would not be able to have any kind of holiday in the shop so it’d be well into next year. I’d like to be able to be open today, you know, but I mean it’s just, it’s not possible that soon, with this, this amount of damage. It’s going to be all right. We’re going to stay with it.”

The interview occurred days after the Lapeyrouses’s neighborhood had its power turned back on, but that valuable resource, like to many others, proved to need extensive electrical work before lights could be turned back on. Even with all these obstacles present, volunteers continue to arrive at the Chauvin Grocery to distribute hot meals, clean water, and ice to a neighborhood in dire need. The publication asked that if any among its readership had the means to help the struggling grocer, they could “reach out to Cecil and Etta Lapeyrouse by email.”

The resilience of a city as impacted and impactful as Chauvin is seen in the members of its community, its facilities, and its population’s pride. Chauvin Grocery not having its spirit inconceivably shaken despite having everything else up-ended is a symbolic promise that Hurricane Ida, while detrimental, didn’t take the Southern Louisiana spirit in its winds. If the community grocery store can eventually make it after all this, then the community can as well.

For more Louisiana-related articles, click here.

Savory Hamburger Topped With Fig Jam, Goat Cheese & Arugula

You’re sure to thoroughly enjoy an unconventional twist on the American hamburger thanks to this deliciously sweet and savory burger recipe from Food52. This particular recipe is so popular on the recipe blog because it combines the diverse, sensational flavors of spicy beef, sweet fig jam, tangy goat cheese, and the earth-flavored arugula to create an unforgettable hamburger. Whether you’re enjoying it on a porch, patio, kitchen table, or beside a pool, it’s reliable and always enjoyable, and this is great news because the deliciousness of this meal cannot be stopped or lessened if it is cooked on a barbecue grill or cast-iron skillet.

Some of the unconventional toppings found in this hamburger recipe are from the chef’s love for those unusual toppings, such as peanut butter or apples, that have made their way onto various hamburger patties nationwide in a semi-recent trend. What’s resulted is a meal that’s not light on flavor, but because of the various textures and diverse tastes coming together, you’re not left overwhelmed as a result. Instead, you’re left wanting more having enjoyed your first (of possible many helpings).

Ingredients:

2 hamburger buns

½ pound of ground beef (fat percentage to your liking)

½ to 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes

¼ teaspoon of onion powder

¼ teaspoon of garlic powder

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 to 3 tablespoons of fig jam (freshly canned, if available)

2 ounces of goat cheese (fresh)

1 handful of arugula

1 teaspoon of olive oil

Recipe:

  1. You’ll begin this recipe by preheating your oven to 350° F. While this is heating up, place a sheet of oven-safe parchment paper onto a baking sheet. When the oven is at 350° F, place your hamburger buns face down onto the sheet tray, and toast them in the oven for approximately 10 minutes. Be watchful throughout and careful so as to not burn them.
  2. While the buns are toasting, take out a small mixing bowl, drizzle some olive oil over your arugula, and season it with salt and pepper. Then give it a toss.
  3. Then, grab another mixing bowl and combine your ground beef with salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. While you can use a safe cooking utensil to mix these ingredients, many burger chefs prefer to use their hands to mix the meat with the seasoning. You’ll want to mix the ingredients together and then form two solid beef patties. You can be gloved throughout this process, but either way, you should follow the handling and mixing of raw meat with a thorough washing of your wrists, arms, and hands with soap and water before touching anything else.
  4. Now it’s time to prepare your cooking surface. Obviously, this meal can be best prepared on a lit grill, but if you’re cooking on the stovetop, you’ll want to heat your cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Melt your butter or oil in the skillet and then carefully place your patties into the pan. If the skillet’s properly heated, you’ll hear an auditory sizzle as you cook the patties for approximately 2 to 3 minutes before you flip them over. Note: your cooking time will vary depending on the particular thickness of your patties, so do consider utilizing a meat thermometer.
  5. After they’re flipped, place some goat cheese on top of each patty in order to warm and soften the cheese. Follow this by cooking the second side for 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Lastly, it’s time to assemble your meal! Spread the fig jam on the bottom bun to prevent too much of a mess, put your patty on top, and then put the arugula between the cheese-topped burger and your top bun.
  7. Enjoy!

For more delicious recipes, click here.