A camp owner’s “island paradise” stands up to the 2020 hurricane season

Late season repairs may have come just in time
Updated: Nov. 11, 2020 at 9:33 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - On the west bank of Plaquemines Parish, in a camp accessible only by boat, childhood memories come flooding back for Christian Amedee.

“It would be hard to estimate the amount of fish that’s been caught at this camp in the last 115 years,” Amedee said. “There has been a camp on this property since 1908.”

On the Wilkinson Canal, a handful of camp owners cling to fingers of real estate.

“I always wanted my own private island and I got it,” Amedee joked.

He bought this two-story fixer upper from his uncles, the third camp built on this site since Hurricane Betsy in 1965.

As with much of Louisiana’s coast, the land around it steadily sinks and erodes, exposing Amedee and his neighbors even more to the elements.

“We are fighting a formidable opponent here,” Amedee said. “It’s mother nature.”

While ownership there has always involved more than a modicum of risk, this year brought a series of storm threats.

The camp would have been gone long ago, if not for somewhat desperate attempts to save it.

A confused mixture of materials encircle it, chunks of old sidewalk, bricks, and other materials brought in by the bucketload in countless trips over the decades.

In early December, Amedee took his efforts to a more industrial scale, bringing in large chunks of concrete to encircle the camp in the hope of knocking down storm surge and everyday tidal action.

“It’s gonna be like Alcatraz Island,” he joked. “It’s gonna be the rock.”

Inside, the camp also got a makeover worthy of a home improvement show, including new windows, new decor and a modern-looking kitchen.

“For all practical purposes, it’s still a camp. We couldn’t make it too nice.”

Outside, workers attached new siding and a fresh coat of paint.

Amedee’s home improvements may be more elaborate, but his neighbors each fight their own battle through bulkheads or other efforts to protect their land.

In the process, Amedee points out, they protect their property and the land behind the camps.

“It’s a true testament to the owners out here and their hard work that this is still around.”

After weeks of work, this crazy hurricane season delivered one more surprise in the form of Hurricane Zeta.

“We were worried,” Amedee said. “Big storms, heavy winds, not a lot of protection out there in the middle of the bay.”

In late October, only weeks after the camp repairs began, Zeta threatened to wash it all away.

While surge surrounded the camp, and a water tank is “missing in action,” Amedee believes the concrete acted as a breakwater, knocking down the waves around the camp.

“It couldn’t have been better timing.”

To prevent further erosion, Amedee plans to cap the property with limestone.

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