Grand Isle levee damage getting worse

Grand Isle levee damage getting worse

GRAND ISLE, LA (WVUE) - A hole in the Grand Isle levee that occurred during recent storms is getting bigger, with no solution in sight. But as city officials appeal to the feds for help, they are putting in place a contingency plan, aided by BP.

"It's like sugar falling out of a tube," said Grand Isle Mayor David Camardelle.

The Army Corps of Engineers spent $17 million  to build this modified burrito levee, but changing currents near Caminada Pass have brought the ever- churning Gulf closer and closer and exposed the levee's inner clay core, which is wrapped in a hybrid fabric.

"There's not enough protection there to make sure the type of the material being used is sustainable through a strong weather event," said Camardelle.

A new million-dollar handicapped walkway to the beach is also in jeopardy, with the surf lapping at the bottom step on a mild day.

"It was underwater the last two nights," said Camardelle.

The Corps denied a request to help, as did FEMA, leaving the island grasping for  solutions.

"This was rocks that BP brought in," said Camardelle standing before a huge rock pile.

City and parish officials are ready to bring in heavy equipment to haul in the rocks that were brought in to protect the area from the BP oil spill six years ago. They hope that will shore up the gaping levee hole if tropical weather threatens.

"Whatever we gotta do, to protect our people," said Camardelle.

But that's just a stopgap measure, and the parish is looking for a permanent repair that would include rock jetties off the beach.

"If we don't fix it now with a few million dollars in the middle of the island, with storm season coming, we're going to be in trouble," said Camardelle.

The damage has gotten far worse than it was when we were out here three weeks ago - not from tropical storms, but from winter storms. But even though city officials have been rejected twice, they still haven't given up hope.

"I will meet next week with Rep. Steve Scalise, and this is one of the things we will be talking about," said Jefferson Parish Councilman Chris Roberts.

With more and more levee crumbling into the Gulf, the mayor remains vigilant.

"That's the narrowest part of the island, if the storm came, you can't get to your people," said Camardelle.

And he says the time to act is now. Camardelle said he's ready to mobilize heavy equipment to move the rocks as soon as a tropical storm approaches the Yucatan Peninsula. The Corps reiterated its statement this afternoon that the levee repairs aren't covered under their current agreement, but they say they are willing to offer technical assistance.

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