Amidst the magnitude of this unfolding tragedy, there is a laughable moment.
How many times have you walked into a dark room and flipped the light switch?
Come on, you have. I have, too, and Ida has made me feel like a doofus knowing full well there wasn’t power.
Now for the serious side. A friend, Drew Bernard, and his family have had a Grand Isle camp for years. There were so many grand memories that they soaked down deep into the support pilings of a home-away-from-home, a place no longer there.
His family’s stories are just one of the thousands in Ida’s wake, especially in our favorite fishing holes at Grand Isle, The Fourchon, Leeville, Golden Meadow, Four Point, Theriot, Dulac, Houma, Lafitte, Venice, Buras, Pointe a la Hache, Delacroix and Hopedale.
Fishing and the pleasure it brings is a concern for the future, those moments away from work we glean when time allows.
Today, hopelessness is mounting for our neighbors battling destruction of homes, and, for some, the loss of loved ones, from this devastatingly powerful storm.
It’s those folks we have to help. That’s who we are. That’s who we should be.
Thank goodness we avoided a tree, although memories of an 80-year-old green ash tree splitting our place during Gustav is as fresh as hearing Ida’s winds howl for hours Sunday night into Monday morning — and Baton Rouge was spared Ida’s full force. How can we here in the Capital City imagine what winds double in force sounded like for hours on end.
Somehow it’s going to take a bit more than the “resiliency” our elected officials often mention to get through this — AccuWeather’s latest estimate of $95 billion — especially when piled upon last year’s storm damage to Vermilion, Cameron and Calcasieu parishes and points north.
For those of us simply waiting for power to return, know it’s a small price to pay compared to the destruction others are facing.
Now is not the time to ride through the devastation, or to get into a boat to take a look-see ride into the Ida’s destructive path.
The good news is all rivers and bayous in our area, except for the Pearl River, are falling, but Ida has left us with a major challenge, that of navigating through all the debris in our waterways.
Now is not the time to find one of those new snags, not only because it puts you in peril, but also knowing it’ll be months before you can get a boat repaired or a new lower unit for your outboard.
You can heed words from law enforcement agencies across out area. If you don’t need to be there, don’t be there.
What we know
Initial reports had Grand Isle covered with, as one estimate said, “was three feet of sand.”
Wednesday’s first images and a gut-wrenching video shared by charter captain Lance Walker showed pilings where homes and camps stood Saturday, and those still standing were damaged to some degree or another — mostly major.
Bridge Side Marina, the store, appeared to survive, but the motel is gone as are at least 10 other cottages and motels along the island.
From first sightings, it will take months, maybe years, to get the Fourchon community off La. 1 back to any semblance of what it looked like in August. Th motel at Moran’s Marina was ripped apart, but other structures appear intact although in need of repair.
Friend Ed Sexton said reports from Port Eads indicated the new marina structure survived the impact, but most camps were damaged, some totaled, and others needing minor repairs.
Cocodrie and places up La. 56 toward Chauvin are wiped out, as are some of the fishing communities to the west. Camps and locations which have stood for decades are gone.
Marshes there and west to Dulac and Four Point were pushed onto roads and into waterways and debris covered the landscape. Water on the north side of the levee south of Houma remained Friday, but water south of the levee has receded.
Delacroix and Hopedale sustained major damage to camps and marinas.
Friends living on the Florida Parishes rivers — Amite, Tickfaw, Tchefuncte, Tangipahoa and near Bayou Liberty — said there is so much debris along and in the rivers that river traffic will be hindered for several weeks. A fisherman, apparently with his glass half full, said there will be a lot of good bass and sac-a-lait structure when he can get back on the water after making repairs to his home.
Pontchartrain charter skipper Mike Gallo said his lodge on Old Spanish Trail “ lost about 50 shingles and some siding, but we made out good.”
As unbelievable as is it, Doiron’s in Stephensville is up and running, and it appears the Verret and Atchafalaya basins were spared Ida’s ravages. There was high water, but it didn’t rise hard enough to produce the kinds of effects we’ve seen from other storms.
Fish kills plus
All the wind, storm surge and rain combined with the massive volume of debris washed into the water will lead to major or minor fish kills.
If you find dead fish, then Wildlife and Fisheries biologists and fishery managers want to know.
Note the date, time and location.
The LDWF website: wlf.louisiana.gov/page..fish-kills
The only closures to report are Elmer’s Island and the dove fields on the Pointe-aux-Chenes WMA south of Houma.
And, all Sept. 25 National Hunting & Fishing Day activities around the state have been canceled.
Lest we forget
Through August and into this month, many families need our prayers, first the Marines and a Navy corpsman killed serving our country.
Then the fond memeries of dear friends Jimmie Lynch, Tip Pace, Richard Wagley and Lonnie Stanley.
Jimmie is a long-ago friend from high school days, a good football player and a man who suffered far too much in his last years.
Tip owned Feliciana Seafood, a man with a big smile and a bigger heart. He was among the first to step
up when Hunters for the Hungry asked for processors to provide venison to feed the needy from hunters’ donations.
Richard was among the most avid outdoorsmen in south Louisiana, and the beauty of this man was he shared so much of his outdoor adventures with young folks.
Lonnie’s legacy will live longer than the prowess he showed on lakes and rivers across our country. His bass lures will bear his name for many years.
These men will be missed, mightily missed.