RACELAND, La. — The past weeks have been the most stressful in Tyler Rivet’s 27 years — first was the scariest hurricane he’s experienced, and next was sweating out a Bassmaster Classic berth. It was difficult to determine which caused more anxiety, but he weathered both storms well.
The third-year Bassmaster Elite Series pro will fish his first championship in the 2022 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic at Lake Hartwell. But Cody Hoyle’s slow start on the final day of the Basspro.com Southern Open on Lake Norman had Rivet squirming. It was the “longest day ever” for Rivet, who sweated along with Hoyle as he lost his big lead before catching two fish late to win.
“It was crazy. Made me stress all day,” said Rivet, who received a Classic spot as next man up on the Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings. Anglers who win an Open receive an automatic Classic berth if they fish all the tournaments in that division. Hoyle, of nearby Rutherfordton, N.C., won in his first B.A.S.S. entry.
“My lifelong dream has finally come true,” Rivet posted. “Thanks to Cody Hoyle winning. I can’t wait to fish the Super Bowl of Bass Fishing.”
It was a huge relief after a rough month. Rivet was in Orange, Texas, visiting his girlfriend when fast-developing Hurricane Ida bared down on the Louisiana coast and his family’s homes in Raceland.
“I was probably the only car coming back this way — it was bumper to bumper going out,” said Rivet, who returned to batten down the hatches. “We do this a lot, but I don’t really expect anything. It can be kind of fun for a hurricane, but this one was different.”
Ida’s eye went right past Raceland, leaving destruction on its path to the East Coast. Early estimates of $95 billion in damage could make it the worst hurricane since 2000.
When Ida’s winds began in earnest mid-morning on Aug. 29, Rivet was at his mother and stepdad’s house, where his grandmother and great grandmother also hunkered down. The next 12 hours were the scariest he’d ever experienced, with wind gusts in Raceland recorded at 174 mph.
While the house held together, there was significant damage, and Rivet had to literally hold the storm back with his bare hands. The roof lifted up a bit, a window blew in and another was flexing inward with water coming in. He held it back while his stepdad cut a brace they screwed into the frame.
“It was sketchy. You could feel the walls moving,” Rivet said. “In my old bedroom, it was scary. If I didn’t hold the window, it was going to break in.
“We got lucky. The window that broke was over the bathtub and rain went into it. It sucked the door where we could barely get in the bathroom. I’ve never seen anything like it. I’m glad we stayed because if we were in another state, it could have ruined the whole house.”
Others weren’t as fortunate. His grandpa’s house down the road was among those that will have to be rebuilt. Rivet and his stepdad went out at 10 p.m. while winds were still whipping around 60 mph to check on neighbors.
“It’s a Louisiana thing,” he said. “The second we knew we were OK, we went to the people next door and see if they need help.”
Their neighbor’s house had a brick wall cave in. Others had leaky roofs requiring tarping. An insurance adjuster came and found significant damage to his mother’s roof.
“The wind blew up the roof off the rafters and sucked it back in,” Rivet said. “There’s a bowl in the roof now. She’ll get a whole new roof. I knew the house would hold up. We didn’t realize how close we were to being really bad. If the roof pulled off just a little more, water could having been coming in.
“All we needed was for it to move five more miles that way and we would have barely had any damage, but it hit us perfect. The eye went probably two miles east of us. We basically had the worst part of the whole storm.”
The scary day made his mom vow to evacuate next time, especially with her 88-year-old grandmother in a wheelchair.