Grand Isle sees some improvement on a long road to recovery

Published: Oct. 6, 2021 at 10:14 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - It’s a massive project trying to get Grand Isle back up and running, but there is hope as some power and water return to small parts of the island.

“It’s hard we want our people back,” Mayor David Camardelle said. “They have no money, no place to go, we are constantly in touch with them. We got the City Hall full of mold. We’re working out of there, the girls and the guys, it’s just rough.”

Life in Grand Isle has taken some serious strength after Ida. It’s still mostly without power, water or gas and buried in sand and debris.

“We are already decorating for Halloween to give the kids something somewhere and we going to make sure they have something to enjoy and come home, maybe they’ll have their FEMA trailer before Halloween. We are hoping that happens,” Camardelle said.

There are about 60 families that need emergency housing right now.

Mayor Camardelle and Gautreau have meetings every morning and night to make sure things are put in motion.

As soon as you get off the bridge, you are hurled into their organized chaos of 18 wheelers and construction crews.

“They’re putting up a temporary substation but every day they are going to add more poles and lines to the system to be able to establish temporary generation power to homes, that way you don’t have to live off a generator at your house,” Gautreau said.

Entergy, after losing 100% of its power system in the area, got its temporary generation plan up and running, giving just 20% of the island power.

“That’s what really hurts me inside it’s the first time it’s taken so long to bring water,” Camardelle said. “As long as I’ve been mayor, we’ve been able to bring back water real quick.”

Right now they are barging water in from Lafitte.

“We are able to provide water to about a third of the island between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.,” Gautreau said. “Just imagine, you have to wrap up your day between those hours if you want to take a hot shower at the end of the day.”

Grand Isle gets their water from the Westbank of Jefferson. The line was moved more than a mile off course during the storm and is a little worse for wear after all these years of storms.

It’s one of many future improvements Camardelle is talking over with our federal representatives, so Grand Isle can continue to weather these massive storms.

Another project is bringing in more rocks to put out in the Gulf so that the beach doesn’t wash out as bad as it did on the Western side of the island. Camardelle says the Eastern side that had rocks did not wash out during Ida.

Another project that Camardelle and Gautreau are working on getting into motion is making sure the waterways are clear of debris and safe for all of the men and women who depend on the Gulf. They are working to get a contract in place for sonar to comb the marshes.

Gautreau says crews are working to sift through around 50,000 cubic yards of sand to separate the debris from it before they pile it back on top of the burrito levee.

Camardelle wants people to know although you’re seeing all of this progress, he still wants to keep people off the island that don’t need to be there because there is a lot of work going on.

Wednesday, they had to clear the road of work crews to try to get an ambulance through after someone had a foot injury.

Gautreau says the closest hospital is about an hour and a half away and there is no guarantee they are not full.

“We’re making great progress and we’re going to be making more and more great progress,” Jefferson Parish Assistant Director of Emergency Management, Timmy Gautreau Jr. said. “We’re not ready to establish life back on Grand Isle.”

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