This article is an excerpt from the book “On The Move: The Overheating Earth and the Uprooting of America,” about climate migration in the U.S. For more, see

Another great American migration is now underway, this time forced by the warming that is altering how and where people can live. For now, it’s just a trickle. But in the corners of the country’s most vulnerable landscapes — on the shores of its sinking bayous and on the eroding bluffs of its coastal defenses — populations are already in disarray.

A couple of miles west of downtown Slidell, Louisiana, and just upstream from the broad expanse of Lake Pontchartrain — the 40-by-24-mile-wide brackish estuary separating what is now the mainland from New Orleans — a five-room shotgun house sits on a plot of marshy lawn near the edge of Liberty Bayou. Colette Pichon Battle’s mother had been born in that house. Colette, bright-eyed and ambitious, devoutly Catholic, a force on the volleyball court, was raised in the house until the day she left for college. The family’s very identity had grown from the waters of the marsh around it. From a humble rectangle of wood, framed onto brick stanchions that kept it hovering several feet above the ground, shaded by the long beards of Spanish moss hanging from the limbs of towering oaks and a hardy pine, a family was born. Its Creole heritage near the acre of low-lying land goes deeper than the trees, deeper than the United States as a nation, to around 1770. Those roots withstood the tests of centuries: slavery, war and more than their share of storms.

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