The fish and crabs are biting and Grand Isle is alive and kicking. That’s the message Jefferson Parish officials hope to project in an effort to bring back tourists to the barrier island that has been largely devastated by four hurricanes in just more than three years, most recently Ike and Gustav last year. The storms wrecked local businesses, destroyed infrastructure and covered the island in sand. Following the carnage, the tourism industry that Grand Isle so heavily relies on has been down 20 to 50 percent.

Jefferson Parish officials and Grand Isle business leaders are now launching a new ad campaign, titled Grand Isle Alive, meant to counter any perception that Grand Isle may not be open for business. The ad campaign, which will include radio, TV, newspapers and billboards, is kicking off just as Grand Isle’s celebrated spring and summer fishing rodeos get under way. Calling the island “the Alamo of Louisiana," Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard pledged his support at a meeting last week, along with members of the Jefferson Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Tarpon Rodeo Association. The group also introduced the launch of Grand Isle’s first official Web site, which includes information on businesses and events, as well as a link to some photos of the island in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Grand Isle’s recovery has been hampered partly by its struggle to receive federal aid. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has placed all of Grand Isle in a “V-zone," meaning it is highly vulnerable and that the agency will not fund any rebuilding projects. Grand Isle did get some good news on the recovery front last week when the Army Corps of Engineers announced it would be spending $50 million to rebuild Grand Isle’s hurricane flood barriers. Gov. Jindal said the 13-foot high levee “will be the highest and strongest protection that Grand Isle has ever had.”

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