By Alaina Pitre, staff writer
Being on the front lines of the Gulf of Mexico, hurricane season is especially busy for Grand Isle with evacuation almost always mandatory.
While many hurricanes have impacted the island, Category 4 Hurricane Ida was one of the worst to hit Louisiana’s coast and directly hit Grand Isle. The storm made landfall August 29, 2021, with 150 mph winds and storm surges reaching over 10 feet, according to the National Hurricane Center.
About 75 people stayed on the island to ride out the storm.
“All hell broke loose – I have never been in a war setting but that is what it felt like,” says Jimbo Adams, a Grand Isle resident who rode out the storm at the island’s fire station. “I have never seen anything like it and I hope I don’t again – it was total destruction.”
Under a mandatory evacuation, most residents left.
“We were rushed, Ida was supposed to make landfall Monday or Tuesday, instead it made landfall Sunday,” says Darleen Taylor, who evacuated to Addis, Louisiana, with her husband and five pets. “We had to hurry.”
And when people were allowed to return, the journey was difficult and the island wasn’t the same.
Taylor says her family couldn’t come home, “We had to stay in Addis for four months.”
Her home was deemed unlivable and so she and her husband and pets are living in a FEMA trailer while making repairs to their home.
While Adams says a lot of residents have not come back to the island, many have and are working to repair the island. To help, several Grand Isle-based non-profit organizations have secured grants and other aid.
“People keep asking me what is the future and I really don’t know,” says Bob Stewart, vice president of the nonprofit Friends of Grand Isle. “It will come back. It may take a while, but we are doing everything we can.”