Weather batters already bruised Grand Isle

GRAND ISLE, La. - Chris Hernandez surveyed the damage on the western side of Grand Isle Wednesday. Three days of strong southeast winds have taken their toll on the beaches, washing out 50 to 60 yards of sand.

"All this was covered," he said. "Last night was the highest tide we had in probably a couple of months. But three days of southeast winds, we don't stand a chance on this side."

The waves crashed against the rocks, carving out the sand and churning up tar balls. Small clumps of hardened oil littered the beach.

Hernandez said this week's weather caused more damage than Tropical Storm Karen, and he's concerned about what a hurricane, even a weak one, could do to this vulnerable part of Grand Isle.

The Army Corps is still repairing damage done to the burrito levee during Hurricane Isaac. The project should be finished by the end of December, but Grand Isle leaders worry that without additional protection, the sand will just keep washing away.

Mayor Dave Carmardelle wants to see more rocks running perpendicular to the jetty along Caminada Pass. That would help break up some of the wave activity before it reaches the shore.

On the other side of Grand Isle, Carmardelle said he wants to keep restoring FiFi Island, which was devastated during Katrina. He plans to talk to the Corps about it next week.

"It'd be like a big mound of dirt with trees on it that could protect us on the north side of the island," he said.

It's a never-ending battle to keep the Gulf from invading Grand Isle, but those who live here know they can't lose this war.

"We're the first line of defense," said Hernandez. "What's next? Lafitte, New Orleans. Save Grand Isle, you'll save the rest."