A Louisiana tribe’s long fight against the American tide—feature reportage from the Fall 2019 issue.Today, the island has a spare and haphazard beauty. Almost every day, fishermen stand in clusters along the island road, casting their nets into the ever-widening water. Where the island begins, the road curves left; here, it’s dense with trees before these give way, gradually, and the sky grows wider. On the right side of the road, to the west, runs the bayou, lined with wood-plank bridges that lead to the homes. To the east there is an oil canal, its size becoming apparent as the forest thins.
Taken in moments of tranquil cohabitation rather than scenes of flooding and disaster, Virginia Hanusik’s photographs interrogate the commonplace existence of communities touched by South Louisiana’s struggle with sea-level rise. “Despite the uncertainty that rising seas and coastal erosion bring to the region,” Hanusik writes, “there is hope found in the history of building practices and land migration patterns that are responses to environmental change.”