Facility Profile - March 2009
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In The Wake of Disaster

Lake Charles Park & Recreation in Lake Charles, La.

By Richie Ward


ebuilding efforts are under way in the City of Lake Charles, La., and shade has become a top priority. After suffering the direct effects from Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 and Hurricane Rita in September 2005, Lake Charles has spent the past several years in reconstruction to restore its once vibrant landmark in the State of Louisiana.

Situated between Houston and New Orleans, Lake Charles is home to the sandy beaches of the Calcasieu River and is just 30 miles upstream from the Gulf of Mexico. Lake Charles is connected to the gulf by means of a deep-water ship channel that provided direct access to the city for the 2005 hurricanes.

As a result of hurricane damage, the City of Lake Charles was a recipient of some $10.9 million in recovery aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This money was to be used to rebuild parks, recreational facilities, fire and police stations, and the Lake Charles Civic Center. The city is well on its way to completing the rebuilding efforts that will reinvigorate the city after two tragic natural disasters.

When considering the parks and recreation aspect of the city revitalization plan, shade became a top priority. And with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) providing professional recommendations to the country for the need for shade, it is no wonder why shade protection became so very important for the citizens and children of Lake Charles.

Shade structures provide protection from the damaging effects of unprotected sun exposure, which often leads to skin cancer. When cities, park agencies and others learn this information, shade becomes a safety issue, and thus a priority, instead of an optional accessory. Shade protection in public places such as parks and recreational facilities is the best way to protect the citizens of Lake Charles.

It is estimated that one in five people in America will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, with that number growing rapidly among children. One serious sunburn can increase the risk by as much as 50 percent.

Shade structures provide protection from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays. They allow children to enjoy their parks and recreational facilities during the midday hours, a time when these facilities have typically been unusable because of the immense heat on playground equipment. Shade structures can lower temperatures by 15 to 20 degrees on playground equipment.