Hurricane Isaac did an estimated $7.4 million damage to state parks in south Louisiana and forced many into months-long closures, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne said Friday (Sept. 14).

Dardenne, who serves at the secretary of the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, the agency that oversees state parks, said Fontainebleau State Park in Mandeville and Fairview-Riverside State Park in Madisonville bore much of Isaac’s wrath, the Times-Picayune reported.

Dardenne said that the $7.4 million estimate of damages is based on preliminary surveys and are still “rough estimates.” He said that his office will report the damage to state officials, who are expected to receive reimbursement for damages from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“It could have been worse,” Dardenne said.

The two St. Tammany parks, he said, accounted for roughly $3.2 million of the $7.4 million in damages; $2.5 million at Fontainebleau and $687,000 at Fairview-Riverside.

Aside from certain spots at Fairview-Riverside, Dardenne said, the park is “currently without power. Restrooms are unusable due to the lack or power, preventing the removal of sewage.”

Dardenne said he does not expect the park to reopen until late this year.

At Fontainebleau State Park, which in recent years has undergone millions of dollars of renovations and construction of new camping and cabin facilities, things were worse, Dardenne said.

Regarded as a crown jewel of the park system, Dardenne said about a dozen cabins that were built seven feet above Lake Pontchartrain all had at least two inches of water in them and some had destroyed decks.

“Park officials hope to expect to reopen the park by the end of the year,” Dardenne said. “Cabins, however, will remain closed for at least six months.”

The campgrounds at Grand Isle State Park were scheduled to reopen Friday, but camping on the beach is banned until further notice, Dardenne said. He estimated damages there to be about $970,000. He said the state is also testing for mold at the fee station entrance to the park.

Dardenne said Bogue Chitto State Park near Franklinton sustained $1.64 million in damages. He said the upper campgrounds are open but lower campgrounds need work and may not be open for three weeks.

Dardenne said other parks and historic sites also took a beating such as:

  • Bayou Segnette State Park near Westwego, which sustained about $190,000 in damages. Dardenne said the park is “riddled with downed trees” and the ground is “extremely soft. Much of the grass was killed by standing water, and the site is covered with mud and silt deposits.” The campgrounds should be open in three weeks, he said.
  • Fort Pike State Historic Site in eastern New Orleans sustained an estimated $660,000 in damages, he said, including an accumulation of “three to four feet of marsh grass and mud … deposited inside the fort, and the manager’s residence has been destroyed,” he said. “There is no current projection for reopening the site.”
  • St. Bernard State Park near Braithwaite, sustained about $90,000 in damages, he said. Campgrounds are now open and staff is working on cleaning the day use areas for an opening “soon,” he said.
  • Tickfaw State Park near Springfield sustained $612,000 in damages, but park officials hope to reopen it Thursday, though not the canoe trails.