While the majority of people in Grand Isle evacuated as Hurricane Ida approached the Gulf coast, a few stayed.
Laine Landry, one of the people who stayed, tells KATC, when the storm made landfall, the impact was devastating.
"It was so bad that you could not see more than 50, 60 feet out the doors and windows because it was just a whiteout,” said Landry, a former police chief and business owner. “It was almost like being in a blizzard."
Now, with tropical conditions in the past, their focus is on rebuilding the island. Landry said they have a long road ahead.
"75 to 80 percent devastation, around just a random intact building,” he said. “I'm seeing three to four feet of sand on top of the roadways. And just about, probably, 90 percent of all the utility poles and lines are down."
Landry said that for the last 40 years, as others evacuate the island ahead of dangerous conditions, he stays put so that he can help others return home.
"We like to be here to be the ones to clear the roads back towards Lafourche Parish and assist the mayor and first responders and getting a safe path to getting residents back as quick as possible,” he said.
When we spoke to him over the phone, he said there were about 60 people on the island. Most of them are fire crews and people helping from other parishes.
Under other circumstances, however, the island would be getting ready to come together and wrap up the summer months.
"This time of the year with Labor Day approaching right now, we would probably have 10,000 to 20,000 visitors and residents enjoying the last major holiday of the summer,” he said. “That's what we would be doing right now on a Wednesday before Labor Day... all our little businesses would be getting ready for the last big holiday."
This year, the focus is on getting the island back on its feet, and they need help.
"Simple things... just a towel and bottled water or gallon water is a luxury right now,” he said. “I hate to say it but right now, if we could, if this fire department right now had five pounds of ham and a couple of loaves of bread... they would be excited."
Officials have said the island is completely destroyed. Some say it is uninhabitable after Ida.
“We're very resilient down here,” he said. “We've been through this a few times. Not this bad, but close to it. We're going to clean up and whatnot. We are going to rebuild. It's hard to beat this place."
Landry said the best way to go about helping the area is to get in contact with the mayor or calling the fire department to set something up.
Listen to the full interview below:
To see several of the first videos from the aftermath of Ida in Grand Isle, click through our interactive map:
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