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Grand Isle, Louisiana "uninhabitable" as Hurricane Ida leaves every building either damaged or destroyed

Gulf Coast grapples with Ida's destruction
Gulf Coast grapples with Ida's destruction 03:00

Grand Isle, Louisiana is a self-described "remote oasis" that rests on a narrow barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico. It's the state's only barrier island with residents, but in the wake of Hurricane Ida, officials say it has become "uninhabitable." 

Now a tropical depression, Ida hit Louisiana as a Category 4 hurricane on Sunday with 150 mph winds. At least four deaths have been blamed on the storm, including two in Mississippi where sections of a highway collapsed.

Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng said Tuesday that a caravan, including local officials and emergency personnel, had traveled to Grand Isle by road earlier that day to assess the damage. 

She spoke with a staff member of Jefferson Parish Councilman Ricky Templet, who was among the officials who surveyed Grand Isle. "Unfortunately, he says he believes the island is uninhabitable," Sheng said. 

"There's 3 feet of sand across the entire island. This is a result of 10 to 12 breaks in the levy on the Gulf side," Sheng said. "...There is a strong odor of natural gas on the island." 

Sheng added that "100%" of the structures are damaged, and that it's estimated that 40% of the structures are either "completely destroyed with just the piling showing" or nearly destroyed. The only people who remain on Grand Isle are the police chief, the mayor and some first responders, she said. 

Aerial footage of Grand Isle posted by Templet shows homes and other structures in shambles. Many buildings were missing parts or all of their roofs. In many cases, all that remained were the building posts or piles of rubble.

Continued coverage from Grand Isle this morning

Posted by Ricky Templet - Jefferson Parish Councilman At Large on Tuesday, August 31, 2021

"There is no means of communication on Grand Isle," Sheng said. 

Parish officials are working on a way to be able to communicate with residents about when it's safe to return, but have warned residents to "not go to Grand Isle (by boat or land)," as the "current conditions on the island are very dangerous." 

Officials are encouraging residents to leave the parish if they can. Sheng said that Jefferson Parish does "not have the services that a basic community has." The area's electricity is not functioning, and the sewer and water systems are "extremely fragile." 

Jefferson Parish residents who stay must adhere to a nighttime curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., which officials said will continue through Monday morning.

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