About Just Imagine SWLA

Four federally declared major disasters ravaged Southwest Louisiana in 10 months in 2020 and 2021. The region emerged with a united resolve to rebuild a stronger, more resilient, and vibrant community.  Hurricane Laura made landfall in Cameron Parish on August 27, 2020, as a Category 4 Hurricane. With the region struggling to recover, Hurricane Delta made landfall in Cameron Parish on October 9, 2020, just nine miles east of where Hurricane Laura hit only six weeks earlier. In February 2021, both Calcasieu and Cameron parishes were impacted by uncharacteristic winter storms that exasperated the hurricane-damaged homes, which were not yet livable. On May 17, 2021, 12 inches of rainfall caused major flooding to the region's homes, businesses, and infrastructure. Together, these disasters devastated the region and emphasized the need to rebuild more resiliently to bolster the region against future storms. 

Recognizing the pressing needs of his hometown, Moss Bluff native and Yahoo! co-founder David Filo and his wife Angela donated $2.5 million to the Community Foundation Southwest Louisiana. This donation allowed the Community Foundation to conduct a national search for a consultant team to lead this once-in-a-generation process.  After a months-long search, a world-class team led by Urban Design Associates was chosen to work with the local community and broader region to develop a Master Plan to rebuild with Resilience and equity. 

Together, we have created the Just Imagine SWLA 50-Year Resilience Master Plan for Calcasieu and Cameron Parishes.   The vision of Just Imagine SWLA is organized around five topics - Collaborative Community Planning, Resilient Housing, Diverse and Strong Economy, Reliable and Resilient Infrastructure, and Natural and Cultural Resources.  The eleven catalytic projects outlined in this plan are highly visible and could be implemented in the first ten years. Seven projects are location specific, while the remaining four apply in multiple locations across both parishes and the region.

Collaborate Community Partnerships

  • Facilitated by: Community Foundation Southwest Louisiana
  • Funded by: Angela and David Filo
  • Supported by Parishes and Municipalities: Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, Cameron Parish Police Jury, City of DeQuincy, City of Lake Charles, City of Sulphur, City of Westlake, Town of Vinton, Town of Iowa
  • Other Partners: Calcasieu Parish School Board, Cameron Parish Port, Harbor & Terminal District, Chennault International Airport, Lake Charles Housing Authority, McNeese State University, Port of Lake Charles, SOWELA Technical Community College, SWLA Economic Development Alliance, Visit Lake Charles

Listening & Planning Process

The Just Imagine SWLA process engaged a region of over 200,000 people, many of whom were relocated or dealing with the stressful process of repairing their homes, fighting insurance claims, and managing contractors.  Despite their personal situations, citizens gave freely of their time and passionately engaged in Just Imagine, a testament to their love of Southwest Louisiana.  Just Imagine SWLA followed a three-step process - Understanding, Testing, and Deciding. More than 2500 people participated over the ten-month engagement period in a variety of in-person meetings and utilizing electronic tools. An excess of 7300 comments shaped the visions of the plan as well as the catalytic projects


  • 42 minutes

ABOUT THE EPISODE Guest Sara Judson, the liaison for the Just Imagine SWLA project, joins hosts Brady and Anna on Louisiana’s Playground to discuss what Just Imagine will mean for the future of Lake…