Retreating from rising sea, state completes purchase of Isle de Jean Charles relocation site

The state has finalized the purchase of a sugar farm near Houma to relocate some of the remaining residents of Isle de Jean Charles, an island rapidly sinking into the Gulf of Mexico, as part of a first-of-its-kind federal program supporting the large-scale retreat from the effects of climate change.

The Louisiana Office of Community Development announced Wednesday (Jan. 9) that it had paid $11.7 million for the 515-acre property about 40 miles north of the island.

The purchase is funded with a $48.3 million grant from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. The grant pays for land, homes and relocation costs.

The state expects to begin work on the site late this year.

The mostly Native American Isle de Jean Charles community has lost 98 percent of the land surrounding their homes since 1955, the result of a combination of subsidence, erosion and sea level rise.

“Today marks an important milestone, as we are one step closer to assisting those residents interested in moving out of harm’s way and into a new community that will provide an improved quality of life,” Pat Forbes, executive director of the community development office, said in a statement.

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Read On the Louisiana Coast, A Native Community Sinks Slowly into the Sea