Aid to Help Island Recovery

By Karly Taranto, staff writer

The Recovery from Hurricane Ida’s devastation has been ongoing since the day after landfall for the Islanders. There has been an abundance of helping hands from different groups across the state.

The Bayou Community Foundation (BCF) began awarding assistance grants in October 2021, so far totaling $4,365,918 in aid relief.

Jennifer Armond, coordinator of the Bayou Community Foundation (BCF), says grants will continue to be awarded as they become available. Grants through the BCF are not limited to rebuilding purposes only. They also provide hot meals, supplies, and financial assistance to help families in need.

There is a lack of housing on the Island even though it has been 7 months since the hurricane. Many families are relocated, but slowly returning to Grand Isle. “We are working on a larger housing effort for Grand Isle right now,” Armond says.

Physical support like this was needed to get Grand Isle back up and running, but assistance for families was also necessary during what was, to many, an emotional time. Families lost jobs and income to provide for themselves and their families.

“It was amazing to see the generosity of other home and camp owners on the island after everything was said and done, it was a very emotional experience.”

— Michelle Wool, camp owner

Janet Scardino, Mayor’s Assistant in Grand Isle, says The Benson Charitable Foundation reached out to us in regards to bringing toys here for the kids around Christmas time.

The Benson Foundation is a charitable foundation from New Orleans, founded by Tom and Gayle Benson.

“They came in with truck loads of toys for the kids here; we put out the toys on tables for the kids to choose from and we still had crates of toys left over, it was amazing,” says Scardino. “There were toys ranging from wireless headphones for the older kids to nice backpacks from Disney World.”

The town of Grand Isle experienced additional help that played a significant role for them getting back onto the island following the devastation from Hurricane Ida.

Family and friends worked together to pick up debris at camps and houses. They brought water and food to people who needed it.

“As we cleaned what was left of our camp shortly after the hurricane, we had at least 10 to 12 people stop and offer a hand in our cleaning process; along with anything else we could possibly need,” says camp owner Michelle Wool.

Alternative to money, manual labor assistance was provided for demolitions. Many people from other areas of Louisiana traveled to the island to offer help in cleaning up, along with helping to salvage what was able to be saved.

The National Guard helped clear roads and debris from the Island immediately following the storm.

Other organizations such as Catholic Charities, United Houma Nation, and the Cajun Navy assisted Grand Isle, as well.

“I believe we partner with organizations to make a difference in our local community, but also to make a bigger impact across South Louisiana,” says Sherry Rhodes with Catholic Charities.

The people of Grand Isle stay hopeful that assistance will continue to come as they recover from the natural disaster.

Wool says, “It was amazing to see the generosity of other home and camp owners on the island after everything was said and done, it was a very emotional experience.”