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'We were one of the lucky ones' | Grand Isle still recovering after Ida

Of the approximately 2,700 structures on Grand Isle, Templet says about 25 percent are gone, many others ripped apart.

GRAND ISLE, La. — Picking up the pieces in Grand Isle isn’t easy.  

“It was devastating but we fared better than some,” said Charles Montero. 

Montero and his family bought a vacation home on the island two years ago. It was a place to forget the stresses of life and welcome friends and family until an unwelcome Hurricane Ida ripped off two walls and part of the roof.  

“I’m not exactly sure when it was built,” said Montero. “We have to get a permit from the town of Grand Isle and got to get engineering drawings.” 

Home rebuilds and repairs on the island will be expensive for many folks, because of current laws.  

“Anything that’s 50 percent or greater damaged, value wise, has to be brought up to the new building codes which are national codes now,” said Jefferson Parish Division A Councilmember-at--Large Ricky Templet. 

Templet says most homes built under national codes did well, surviving with minor damage. That’s not the case for older homes, many without insurance.  

“A lot of these homes were passed down from generation to generation, the older homes, from family members who have either lived on the island or grew up going to a camp on the island,” said Templet.  

Of the approximately 2,700 structures on Grand Isle, Templet says about 25 percent are gone, many others ripped apart.  

“We were one of the lucky ones,” said Robert Mills.  

Mills and his wife Jodi moved to Grand Isle three years ago from Minnesota. Their home, which was built under those national codes, only had minor damage. Their neighbor’s house is gone, and they’re surrounded by destruction.  

“I think the hardest part is when we were away, just the hopelessness that you feel. You feel like you should be there doing something,” said Jodi Mills.  

Templet says the island still doesn’t fully have power, running water, or gas. While he says a lot of people want to rebuild, most are waiting to get answers from insurance companies.  

“It’s a frustrating situation for all involved,” said Templet. “Lumber prices are through the roof, property is expensive. It’s going to be an expensive proposition for a lot of people to come back.”  

Whether it’s camps or permanent homes, folks who know Grand Isle, know it won’t be the same. They just hope as the sun sets on hardship; it’ll rise with opportunity.    

“It may, in turn, create a nicer place, but it may be ten or 15 years down the road,” said Montero.  

“It’ll be worth the effort,” said Robert Mills. “The town is a beautiful town, the people are beautiful, and we wouldn’t want to live anyplace else.”