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Highlighting Bogalusa, LA

In recent decades, the frequency of natural disasters, particularly floods, has notably increased. Floods pose a significant threat to transportation networks, leading to disruptions such as delays, diversions, and closures. The ramifications are substantial, with some journeys being entirely thwarted due to roads being partially or fully closed. Those trips that do persist often encounter extensive delays caused by traffic congestion, stemming from alternate routes devised to circumvent impassable roads. These disruptions in transportation create economic and social strains. For instance, individuals may find themselves unable to reach their workplace or arrive punctually, resulting in lost workdays or decreased work hours. Evaluating the economic and societal impacts of flooding events is paramount. This assessment is crucial in aiding transportation planners and decision-makers to devise effective mitigation strategies, ensuring a more resilient future for communities.

Research focusing on the repercussions of flooding events on rural transportation networks remains limited. While numerous studies investigate the effects of flooding on urban road networks, there is a scarcity of case studies concerning rural road systems. Yet, rural communities face heightened vulnerability to flooding compared to their urban counterparts due to multiple factors: limited access to public services, elevated poverty rates, and less robust infrastructure. These very factors compound the complexities of disaster recovery in rural areas. To mitigate the profound economic and social impacts of flooding on rural communities, it is imperative for studies to spearhead the identification of strategies aimed at bolstering resilience.

Initially established by the Great Southern Lumber Company in 1902 to support its workforce, Bogalusa persists as the home to a wood/paper mill, which serves as the city's primary revenue source. Boasting a population of 11,800 residents, Bogalusa stands as the largest town in the parish. The name 'Bogalusa' traces its origins to the Choctaw phrase 'bogue lusa,' translating to 'smoky water' or 'dark water' [8]. Positioned between the Pearl River to the west and Louisiana Highway 21 to the east, Bogalusa contends with a predisposition to flooding events [9], particularly susceptible due to its location only around 100 feet above sea level, making flash flooding a recurring challenge.

Recent historical instances underscore the vulnerability of Bogalusa to flooding: a 2016 flooding incident incurred approximately $10.9 million in damages, necessitating the U.S. Coast Guard assistance for rescue operations. Similarly, a major flood event in 2018 resulted in the closure of five state highways and parish roads due to rising water levels. According to US Geological Survey (USGS) records, Bogalusa has encountered at least 10 moderate flood stage level events from 2016 to 2022. Anticipated projections indicate a foreseen escalation in both the frequency and severity of these events, implying inevitable repercussions on transportation systems due to flooding impacts. Bogalusa bears a legacy of racial inequity and environmental injustice. It served as a focal point for Civil Rights activism, notably housing the Deacons for Defense, an armed African-American self-defense group. Furthermore, the town grappled with a chemical leak at the Gaylord Chemical Company, stemming from an explosion involving nitrogen tetroxide—an element used in paper production and as a nerve agent during World War I. This history underscores the importance of comprehending how flooding could disproportionately affect diverse road users.

Bogalusa, Louisiana, has grappled with recurring floods over recent years, and the looming threat of climate change further escalates the potential for future inundations. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 vividly illuminated the disparities in transportation accessibility faced by historically marginalized communities. Evacuation planning in such contexts involves a multifaceted and intricate process, demanding that stakeholders comprehend the profound impact on the most vulnerable populations, often including those who struggle to return to normalcy after severe natural disasters.

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