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Hurricane Rita devastated gulf-front communities along the western Louisiana coast in 2005. LIDAR (light detection and ranging) topographic surveys and aerial photography collected before and after the storm showed the loss of every structure within the community of Holly Beach. Average shoreline change along western Louisiana's 140-km-long impacted shore was −23.3 ± 30.1 m of erosion, although shoreline change in Holly Beach was substantially less, and erosion was not pervasive where the structures were lost. Before the storm, peak elevations of the dunes, or berms in the absence of dunes, along the impacted shore averaged 1.6 m. The storm surge, which reached 3.5 m just east of Holly Beach, completely inundated the beach systems along the impacted western Louisiana shore. The high surge potential and low land elevations make this coast extremely vulnerable to hurricanes. In fact, most of the western Louisiana shore impacted by Rita will be completely inundated by the storm surge of a worst-case Saffir-Simpson category 1 hurricane. All of this shore will be inundated by worst-case category 2–5 storms.

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