The Jefferson Parish Council is asking President Barack Obama’s administration to include the parish under a federal disaster declaration stemming from last week’s storms.
The request, approved unanimously along with another asking Parish President Mike Yenni to declare a state of emergency, came in response to the damage sustained by the levee system protecting Grand Isle.
That levee guards the Gulf of Mexico side of the island from storm surge during hurricanes, and the upcoming hurricane season is less than three months away, noted Councilman Ricky Templet, who proposed the measures.
Grand Isle Mayor David Carmardelle told the council that last week’s storm brought 8-foot waves and winds of up to 50 mph, eroding sand on the levee on the west side of the island that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spent $51 million to upgrade about three years ago.
It also damaged a long ramp the town had waited 10 years for to provide handicapped access to the beach. It was completed Tuesday, and by Friday, part of it “was in the Gulf of Mexico.”
Carmardelle explained that parish and federal declarations of emergency are an important first step in trying to get funding for repairs, though he did not specify what those repairs might cost.
The damaged portion of the levee is about 1,500 feet long and located behind the Bridgeside Marina.
Grand Isle officials say that eventually, the existing jetty may have to be extended or breakwaters installed to protect the breached portion of the levee.
Carmardelle said he is worried that even with the declarations, typical delays could force the town to do something itself.
If help doesn’t arrive soon, “we’re gonna come in with some trucks and some rocks and save our community,” he said.
Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.