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Home » Louisiana ‘climate refugees’ still awaiting resettlement after 5 years

Louisiana ‘climate refugees’ still awaiting resettlement after 5 years

Louisiana ‘climate refugees’ still awaiting resettlement after 5 years

State's nearly $50 million plan has yet to relocate any Isle de Jean Charles residents

ISLE DE JEAN CHARLES, La. — Five years into a nearly $50 million federal grant to move this Gulf community threatened by rising sea levels, a new house has yet to be built. Officials say that will change by the end of the year, but on the isolated island people say they have heard that one before.

“It’s been five and a half years, and they’re just starting to put the foundation down for the first house,” said Johnny Tamplet, a 66-year-old island resident. “And this is supposed to be the showcase for moving a community that’s vanishing because of global warming?”

Mr. Tamplet was one of a handful of Isle de Jean Charles regulars gathered last Thursday at Theo Chaisson‘s marina on the eastern side of the thinning strip that juts into the Gulf of Mexico. With a vicious rain battering the wooden roof at volumes that made conversation difficult, the old-timers sipped bottled beer, peered out at the stark natural beauty dotted with ramshackle houses and predicted the same scene would play out there one year from now just as it has for the past 31.

Officials with the Louisiana Office of Community Development who are handling the relocation project say they never portrayed it as a “model” for how societies might deal with communities predicted to submerge as warmer seas rise.

They insist the new homes for 37 of the 40 Isle de Jean Charles residents will be completed by summer 2022 and say the project remains within the $48.3 million budget.

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