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Follow Along With The Coastal Desk's 'Vanishing Coast' Tour Of Chauvin

Vanishing Points
Wetlands Discovery Center

WWNO’s Coastal Desk is heading to Chauvin, Louisiana to visit some sites that are in danger of being washed out by coastal erosion and sea level rise. After visiting the working coast camp in Houma last month, LaineKaplan-Levenson learned of the Wetlands Discovery Center’s Vanishing Points project. This online mapping tool identifies and tells the stories of various locations that are at risk of disappearing.

Keep up with the Coastal Desk throughout their journey on Twitter — they’ll be tweeting photos and insights from @WWNO as they go.

The first stop on WWNO’s Coastal Team’s Vanishing Points tour is the Chauvin Sculpture Garden, which has quite a mysterious history. Folk Artist Kenny Long stumbled upon some land along Bayouside Drive back in 1988, pitched a tent, and built himself a home. He continued to build over the next decade, specifically large-scale religious sculptures out of found objects. In 2000 Hill vanished from his home, leaving behind only a note that said, “Hell Is Here, Welcome.” Nichols State now helps maintain Hill’s sculptures. The Coastal Team will meet with Dr. Gary Lafleur, who teaches Biology at Nichols State and chairs the garden’s board.

Next, the team will head to Cecil Lapeyrouse Grocery, a 100-year-old store run by the third generation of the Lapeyrouse family. When Lapeyrouse’s grandfather Gustave opened for business in 1914, there was no paved road, and customers arrived by boat! According to current maps, the grocery appears to already be in open water. Lapeyrouse wonders how much time he and his family establishment have left before needing to close up shop.

From there they’ll visit Mae Mae’s Snoball stand. This community pillar is run by Bertha Pellegrin (Ms. Mae Mae) who has been making snoballs for over 40 years. Working right on 5620 Hwy 56, Ms. Mae Mae, as well as her beloved customers, have seen local landscape change, and the water continue to creep.

The final stop is  Provost Cemetery in Dulac. The team will meet with ShirellParfait-Dardar, Chief of the Grand Caillou/Dulac Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Indians. Provost is predominantly a Native-American burial site (though there are some Civil War Veterans in the mix). All of Chief Dardar’s deceased family members are buried there. Dardar says graves have "taken off" during storms, and she worries about the preservation of this land and her loved ones.

Don't forget to follow the Coastal Desk throughout the day on Twitter @WWNO

Support for WWNO's Coastal Desk comes from the Walton Family Foundation, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, the Kabacoff Family Foundation and WWNO Members.

As the new Coastal Reporter, Jesse Hardman will draw on 15 years of worldwide experience in radio, video and print journalism. As a radio reporter he has reported for NPR, BBC, and CBC, and for such familiar programs as Marketplace, This American Life, Latino USA, and Living on Earth. He served as a daily news reporter and news magazine producer for WBEZ in Chicago.