Challenges of 2005

 Hurricanes Katrina and Rita

August and September 2005 saw probably the biggest challenges to face the Louisiana State Parks system - Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. A number of parks previously had undergone temporary closures due to Hurricanes Isidore and Lili in 2002 and Hurricane Bill in 2003. As the numerous news reports and succeeding media programs have shown, prior experience with hurricanes did little to prepare anyone for what happened with Katrina and Rita. Sites in the New Orleans area - St. Bernard State Park, Fort Pike State Historic Site, Fontainebleau State Park and Bayou Segnette State Park - suffered first-hand damage during Katrina, while Rita caused closures of Cypremort Point State Park and Sam Houston Jones State Park. In addition, parks that were not directly impacted by the hurricanes worked with FEMA and became evacuation centers, by providing housing and services for people who had been displaced by the storms.

Most impacted parks had completely re-opened by the following spring, with the exception of Fontainebleau SP, St. Bernard SP and Fort Pike SHS. Fontainebleau SP re-opened in stages, culminating with the opening of brand-new cabins in April 2008; while St. Bernard SP remained completely closed until December 2006. Fort Pike SHS had already been under consideration for structural work due to the age of the fort proper; and while Hurricane Katrina exacerbated some of the structural issues, the site was considered suitable for public use and re-opened in May 2008.