Gulf of Mexico
Officials inspect damage to levees in Grand Isle LA, Sophia Germer NOLA.com

LA - Grand Isle faces 'crisis situation': Broken storm defenses as a rough hurricane season opens

Grande Isle is pretty tough, but Grand Isle’s longtime mayor, says this summer’s spate of predicted storms and hurricanes may hit too hard and too often for his island to withstand.

David Camardelle is proud of his island’s ability to take a beating and quickly recover. Storms regularly pummel Grand Isle, but most of its long-legged buildings stand well above flood waters, metal shutters shield windows from high winds, and the island’s levee is easy to repair if waves tear away its sandy front, as they did when Tropical Storm Cristobal struck last week.

But Camardelle, Grand Isle’s longtime mayor, says this summer’s spate of predicted storms and hurricanes may hit too hard and too often for his island to withstand.

“This is a crisis situation,” he said Thursday. “I’m worried to death this island will be cut in half.”

Cristobal damaged nearly 2,000 feet of the levee on the island’s west side. Waves gouged deep, cutting through about 85 feet of sand to reach the levee’s core, a wrapped tube of sand known as the "burrito."

The burrito’s exposed top looks like black plastic tarp stretched taut over the beach. On the island’s southwest tip, the burrito sags out of a bluff above the waves. Another storm could burst the exposed burrito and crash through the homes and businesses behind it.

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