By Jonathan Eastwood & Kristen Rodrigue, Features Editor & Managing Editor

What was once one of Louisiana’s most popular island oases, Grand Isle now lies in shambles — homes destroyed, businesses in ruins and lives changed forever.

“It was tragic – so shocking, I still have no words,” says long-time Grand Isle vacationer Gregory Autin. “It looked like a nuke went off, you couldn’t even see the road – it was just covered in sand.”

“It was tragic – so shocking, I still have no words. It looked like a nuke went off.”

On August 29, 2021, Hurricane Ida hit the Bayou Region of Southeastern Louisiana, causing mass destruction and leaving the low-lying island town of Grand Isle especially devastated.

Nearly eight months later, Grand Isle is still struggling to recover. Many homes, businesses and camps remain in disrepair.

Grand Isle resident and business owner Shane Holder says his RV park is still buried in sand after a levee was wiped out by waves during the storm.

“You can’t tell it now, but from right here to over yonder there was no levee,” he says. “It completely failed.”

While Mayor David Camardelle and members of the Town Council fight to bring back Grand Isle, the rest of the world – and even much of Louisiana – remains unaware of what the island continues to face.

“They think normal life is happening here, and it’s not,” Camardelle says.

Despite the hardship Hurricane Ida brought when it landed in the Bayou Region, Camardelle and the residents of Grand Isle are determined to keep fighting for their beloved island-paradise.

A framed poster on the mayor’s desk in the temporary town hall reads, “As long as there is one grain of sand on Grand Isle, we are going to plant the American flag. We are not going anywhere.”

In this issue, we will tell the story of Grand Isle: the community that has lost so much, and the people who are fighting to bring it back.