Sulphur, La - Sept. 24, 2016 - Hurricane Rita made landfall on the Southwest Louisiana coast on September 24, 2005, inflicting major damage on Cameron and Calcasieu Parishes. Recently, CITGO Petroleum Corporation hosted an event to commemorate the 11th anniversary of the storm, celebrating the resilience and teamwork of the Southwest Louisiana community in the hurricane's aftermath.

On September 24, 2016, 11 years to the day after Hurricane Rita's landfall, the CITGO Lake Charles Refinery and more than 100 volunteers gathered on the Cameron Parish shore line, for a day-long dune restoration event hosted by CITGO and the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL). Together, the volunteers worked to plant 28,000 dune grass plugs along two miles of beach to help prevent coastal erosion. This is the third year in a row that CITGO and CRCL have partnered to plant grass in Cameron Parish. In addition, CITGO and CRCL are partnering with the McNeese State University Nature Lab to plant 5,000 plugs of grass through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Education Bay-Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) project.

"We are pleased to continue our strong partnership with CITGO in this year's Cameron shoreline restoration project," said Kimberly Davis Reyher, CRCL Executive Director. "Hurricane Rita was devastating to the Cameron shore, its communities and those further inland. But through perseverance and hard work our volunteers are restoring this coastline so that it will once again act as a natural buffer against storms, which is vital to Cameron and Southwest Louisiana."

CITGO Vice President and General Manager Tomeu Vadell who attended the event said CITGO is proud to be a part of making a tangible difference on Louisiana's coastline. "Louisiana's coast is vital to our state and to our industry. Together, we are making a difference in protecting our precious coast line, restoring natural habitats and protecting Cameron Parish."

Over the course of three years, CITGO and CRCL along with community volunteers planted 158,000 plugs of grass to help with soil retention along the Cameron Parish coastline.

*         2014 - Holly Beach, 314 volunteers, 70,000 plugs 5 miles restored

*         2015 - 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Rita-Constance Beach, 326 Volunteers, 65,000 plugs, 6 miles restored plus 1 mile of sand fence constructed

*         2016 - 11th Anniversary of Hurricane Rita - East Holly Beach, 100 volunteers, 28,000 plugs of dune grass, 2 miles restored

This year's dune restoration event was a part of National Estuaries Week, which ran from Sept. 17 to Sept. 24. The event was also a part of the CITGO Caring for Our Coast initiative, started in August 2014 to commemorate Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The grass planting increases soil retention along the beach, promotes dune growth and provides critical habitat for nesting birds as well as enhances protection to Highway 82 and the coastal communities of Cameron Parish.

CITGO has a longstanding commitment to environmental stewardship. We are dedicated to enhancing the communities we serve by conserving the protective, natural habitats that are critical to their prosperity. Caring for Our Coast is a series of projects and programs focused on coastal conservation and restoration in remembrance of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.