Resilience on the River: Zip NOLA glides back into business after Hurricane Ida clean-up

Published 3:30 pm Friday, February 18, 2022

Editor’s Note: The Resilience on the River series celebrates how local businesses have persevered through the challenges of Hurricane Ida. If you have business reopening news or other stories of resilience to share, please email brooke.robichaux@lobservateur.com.

LAPLACE — When Hurricane Ida pushed more than 10 feet of storm surge down Peavine Road in LaPlace, almost every type of debris imaginable became entangled in the surrounding Cypress swamps.

Zip NOLA was forced to shutter its doors only one month after its grand opening in July 2021 and begin a daunting clean-up process. Since reopening on February 12, the world’s first fully-aquatic swamp zip line course is officially back in action, allowing thrill-seekers and nature-lovers a bird’s eye view of breathtaking local scenery.

Zip NOLA co-owner Tyler Richardson will never forget what the course looked like in the immediate aftermath of the storm.

“The poor little town of Frenier was pretty much decimated. Everything you could imagine was distributed across our zipline course. We had vehicles, storage containers, refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, whole sheds, just countless amounts of trash and debris,” Richardson said. “One of the biggest hurdles was the clean-up aspect. The allure of the course, besides the ziplining aspect, is the aesthetics. We had to be artful in the way we were cleaning up the course.”

Being denied for aid by insurance, FEMA and SBA further complicated the recovery process. Determined to restore the course to its original condition, the Zip NOLA team used an amphibious excavator and a barge to clear trash and debris from the swamp.

“The big pontoon excavators allowed us to clean up the swamp in a way that minimized damage,” Richardson said. “We were pretty much  able to completely replicate what it looked like prior. If anybody were to have taken a tour, I think they would be pleasantly surprised that it looks virtually the same.”

Suspension bridges and platforms along the course were fully restored during the recovery process. Fortunately, none of the main support trees were damaged during the storm.

Richardson was also thankful that the Zip NOLA lobby sustained only minor damage. Built 14 feet above ground, the structure survived the storm without any water intrusion and endured minimal roof damage.

While the Zip NOLA course looks pristine, the remnants of Hurricane Ida’s wrath can be seen when traveling just a minute down the road.

Richardson is looking forward to 2022 being a less turbulent year.

“Between COVID and Ida, it would be nice to get a full year in,” Richardson said. “We would really like to live up to what this course was meant to do and start hosting schools and corporate events. We just want people to know we’re back.”

Located at 301 Peavine Road in LaPlace, Zip NOLA was inspired by the adventurous ziplines in Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic. Zip NOLA’s 20,000 linear feet of advanced zipline technology showcases the beauty of local swamps.

Each of the five ziplines brings a special sense of adventure during the 90-minute tour, which also introduces visitors to two suspension bridges, a towering spiral tree staircase, and a spacious gift shop with snacks and drinks.

Having previously worked in the swamp tour business, Richardson is excited to find new and innovative ways to educate guests on the swamp ecosystem.

Tickets can be booked online at zipnola.com for $89 per person. Through the end of the month, Zip NOLA is offering a 10% discount with the promo code “GRAND.”