Phase I included initial outreach to, and engagement with, current island residents, as well as a preliminary land use and infrastructure survey of the island. The program team’s interactions with residents provided insight into residents’ priorities and revealed additional complexities to be addressed during subsequent phases. The team learned that residents’ values include privacy, seclusion, access to water, safety, flood protection, continued access to the island and maintaining and strengthening cultural identity. However, values vary widely from individual to individual—there is no single, homogenous set of community priorities shared by all island residents. The team continues to build relationships with each island resident to ensure this diversity of values and priorities is well represented in the development of a new community for Isle de Jean Charles.
A final report on Phase I can be found here.
Understanding and reflecting residents’ needs and their vision for their future community is the project’s highest priority. As part of the Resettlement’s planning phase, a series of public meetings and one-on-one conversations took place, with meetings continuing throughout the planning effort to ensure island residents have ongoing engagement with team members and the resettlement process as a whole.
The state continues to conduct outreach and strengthen relationships with island residents through varied mechanisms as well as by visiting the island about once a week.
Phase III is the execution phase, during which the state will implement the master plan created during Phase II. Phase III will consist of completing the next phase of the environmental review, finalizing site design work, acquiring permits, laying infrastructure, constructing housing, initiating business development activities, launching workforce training programs and helping residents move into the new community.
To view the program’s eligibility requirements, click here.
The Resettlement of Isle de Jean Charles is a process filled with both relief and uncertainty for islanders. Most islanders know they should move; but for many, this move will take them away from all they have ever known. Several residents have expressed concern about the distance between the new community and the island.
In interviews with the Resettlement team, island residents revealed they see Isle de Jean Charles as a place of security and isolation. They embrace the rural setting—the quiet and the tranquility. It is a place where they know each other and their history, and a place where both independence and care for neighbors and family are core values.
Despite its challenges, residents know how to live on the island. They are resilient and ingenious “do-it-yourself” individuals who can repair their houses and fix their cars, heaters and pipes. They know how to prepare for storms and how to recover afterward. Some of these skills are transferable to the new site, but others will be lost. As one islander said, "I have never fished in fresh water; I have only fished in salt water." He went on to describe how he views the difference and the magnitude of change it requires. This is just one of the many changes islanders are facing. Although the proposed move is only 40 miles north, in many ways, it is perceived as a world away.
Parting from the island will be a transformative process, as individuals and families adapt in significant ways. The Resettlement team will continue to work closely with the community to ensure that throughout this leave-taking and the losses it entails, there are new opportunities, new connections and a new peace and security to be found.