GRAND ISLE, La. – A big project is underway in Grand Isle to restore more than a mile of beach.
The water is part of what makes Grand Isle special, but over time, mother nature has robbed the area of precious coastline.
Chip Cline with the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority said, “The beach we now stand on, several weeks ago was open water. You literally had the Gulf of Mexico lapping up against this segment of levee.”
Restoring the west end of the island has been in the works for years.
Federal funding was appropriated in 2018, but with little action, the state came up with the $7.5 million to expedite the repair on the beach and dune.
“We’re going from about 10 feet from the levee itself and the water’s edge. Now, almost 200 feet between the levee and the water’s edge,” Cline said.
Mayor David Camardell said it was important to get this project done now not only to be prepared for hurricane season, but to be prepared for any winter or spring storms.
“You come back in the next few months; March, April, May and those southeast winds start taking, where you are standing will be okay, but over on that end over there will be a different picture,” Camardelle said.
Ultimately, the mayor wants more rock breakwaters to prevent erosion. The Army Corps of Engineers already built five.
“This sand will not just go out to the Gulf of Mexico and forever be gone,” said Rudy Simoneaux with the Costal Protection and Restoration Authority. “It’s going to continue eastward and actually build up parts of the beach further east.”
Simoneaux said when restoring the beach, consistency of the sand factors into the project.
“In Louisiana, this is beach quality sand. It does build the beach and a coarser grain sand could be constructed quicker, it could last longer and it could stay on the beach longer, but we don’t have that luxury,” Simoneaux said.
Nearly 760,000 cubic yards of sand was dredged from nearby Caminada Pass to build 30 acres of beach and dune. The hope is Grand Isle is now better protected and more resilient.
“I think you’re going to have a sustainable levee and beach that will allow for this to be the special place that it is,” Cline said.