Grand Isle Residents Fearing for the WorstMay 29, 2010 - 3:58 PM | by: Elizabeth Prann
With the beaches barricaded, Grand Isle, La., looks like a ghost town.
Any other year, the 7-mile long island would see more than 10,000 visitors this holiday weekend. But today, fishing is idle and the only phone calls hotel and condo managers are receiving are for cancellations.
Many of the 1,500 permanent residents say they have very little hope.
“I’ve been more scared in the past couple weeks, than I have my whole life,” said Dean Blanchard, owner of Blanchard Seafood.
Small business owners here make their annual salaries’ in the next 3-4 months. In addition, 30 percent of the nation’s fishing catch comes from the Gulf.
Homeowner Vickie Lemoine says her family visits their vacation home on the weekends and holidays. She says they’ve never seen a more deserted Memorial Day weekend.
“We are so scared,” she said. “We’ve gone through Hurricane Katrina but after a hurricane you hurry up, come back and clean up. This is like a slow kill.”
Local small business owners say they fear the lack of business will force them to close up shop.
“If this oil stays, if no tourists come down – we’re not going to be able to stay open,” said Restaurant owner Sarah Rigaud. “There is not enough island people to support all the restaurants.”
That’s not all. Louisiana residents have to worry about the 2010 hurricane season. It begins Tuesday. Despite the bleak outlook, many residents here say they don’t want to leave. Some have been here for generations and love the island.
“My husband is buried here, I’m not leaving,” Rigaud said. “After you been somewhere for 55 years, you don’t want to live anywhere else.”