Hurricane Ida Aftermath

Kitra Cahana

Grand Isle, Louisiana, has always existed at the mercy of weather from the Gulf. For centuries it endured a harrowing cycle of destruction and reconstruction, as storm after storm razed the town to the ground. While similar nearby communities like Cheniere Caminada and Isle Derniere suffered fatal blows (Isle Derniere now exists only as a shoal, completely consumed by the sea) Grand Isle has always rebuilt—a spirit of perseverance that forms the very core of the island’s identity.

When Hurricane Ida began lashing Grand Isle on August 29, the 100 residents who decided to stay on the island knew immediately that it was the worst hurricane in living memory. Wind, gusting at over 170 mph, blew entire houses to pieces. The levee failed spectacularly, flooding the island with seawater. The terrifying stories of that night paint a picture of resilient, hurricane-hardened folks nonetheless caught off guard by the awesome force of nature.

Now, as the community contemplates rebuilding (an effort that will take years), it must confront the bitter possibility that Hurricane Ida was just the beginning. As climate change threatens to produce increasingly violent storms, and sea-level rise threatens to submerge the island entirely, many are wondering if they have any future at all on their beloved island.

In Pointe-Aux-Chênes, a bayou community in southern Louisiana, home to the Pointe-au-Chien tribe, an estimated 80% of homes are uninhabitable following Hurricane Ida. Hurricane Ida made landfall on Aug 29, 2021 devastating communities across southern Louisiana and displacing thousands of residents.

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