This is a pacific picture of Grand Isle. On shore it is not as calm. Demolishing buildings is what has to be done, after Ida, to bring Grand Isle back.

Three months after Hurricane Ida struck the Louisiana coast near Grand Isle with near 150-mph winds and a devastating storm surge, officials say that almost 700 of the island’s nearly 2,800 buildings were either destroyed during the Category 4 storm or sustained so much damage they must be demolished now. Grand Isle bore the brunt of the Aug. 29 storm, but it wasn’t the only place in the parish with widescale damage. And Jefferson Parish officials are urging property owners who qualify to notify the parish as leaders scramble to get nearly 1,000 significantly damaged structures outside the federal levee system cleared as soon as possible. Apart from Grand Isle, about 340 structures outside of the federal levee protection system, an area that includes the Town of Jean Lafitte, Lower Lafitte, Crown Point and Barataria, sustained more than 50% damage, marking them for probable demolition as well.

A needs assessment is the first order of business and one is being developed now.

The parish is currently doing a “needs assessment” to determine eligibility for FEMA help, Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng said. If FEMA grants that there is a need and approves a program that will pay for individual demolitions, the agency will deal directly with homeowners who meet the criteria, Lee Sheng said. “This is our path to recovery, too,” she said. “Moving and clearing the property and getting people to rebuild or sell is huge.” Owners of uninsured property outside the levee system who wish to be considered for the program should fill out an online form or call the parish’s property demolition hotline at (800) 699-1002 on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. The deadline is Dec. 31. On Grand Isle, 200 structures were completely wiped out by the storm. Another 466 sustained such heavy damage they should be demolished — meaning nearly a quarter of the barrier island’s structures were wiped out.

Residents are starting to comeback. They are facing the perils of living on a barrier island.

A few hundred residents have returned full time. Utilities, including electricity, water and gas have been restored to every structure that has the ability to take it safely, said Bryan Adams, the Jefferson Parish official tasked with overseeing Grand Isle restoration efforts. Hundreds of heavily damaged buildings, the majority of them houses, remain. There has been progress, but recovery efforts are still in the early stages, he said. Entergy has been replacing downed power poles with stronger ones and plans to run a new underground transmission line from near Port Fourchon to the near Grand Isle. Similar efforts are being made to improve the water and gas infrastructure, Adams said.

The “burrito levee” needs repair as it suffered damage from Ida. It is the main protection for the Isle.

Plenty of work remains to be done on the parish’s protective “burrito levee,” the long sand-filled tube that protects the gulf side of the island. The levee was heavily damaged by Ida’s surge, when water burst through the levee and flooded the island, covering much of the island in feet of sand. Getting damaged buildings demolished and the debris carted away quickly is paramount, said Jefferson Parish Council member Ricky Templet. “It’s important economically, but also aesthetically and safety wise,” he said. Partially-damaged buildings could supply dangerous projectiles during the next high wind event, making an already rough situation even worse. “You don’t want to get to next hurricane season and have a couple hundred structures partially torn apart,” he said. “The faster it can be done, the better.”

There is a lot to be done but the first though should be should I stay. Yes it is had to leave an area you have spent your life in but what is the cost of continuing to live on a moving island with more strong storms forecast. A tough choice.

Grand Isle coming back by demolishing buildings