At Ida ground zero with Rivet, Sumrall

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Caleb Sumrall helps a home owner with his damaged roof shingles.

RACELAND, La. — Hurricane Ida slammed into the Louisiana coastline Aug. 29 as a Category 4 hurricane, ripping the toe of the boot-shaped state to shreds with winds that topped 150 mph. Bassmaster Elite Series pro Tyler Rivet’s home was at ground zero.

Rivet stayed in his Raceland home, and he sent one text out at 5:36 p.m. that evening before the area lost cell service.

“It’s bad over here,” the text read. “Everything messed up.”

And then the cell signal blinked out as the eye moved passed his hometown and through the heart of Southeast Louisiana. It wasn’t until Aug. 31 that Rivet could check back in.

And the news was grim.

“Just getting (cell) service,” Rivet wrote by text. “It was bad. The whole town is destroyed for the most part.”

He said his family’s homes were intact, but many of his neighbors were not so lucky.

“We got lucky and our houses are standing, but most of the town is totaled,” Rivet wrote.

Fellow Elite Series pro Caleb Sumrall lives in New Iberia, just to the west of the storm’s path. He said there was minimal impact to his area, but he has been dumbfounded by what he found when he headed to the Houma area near Rivet’s hometown to help with relief efforts.

“It's total loses, man,” Sumrall said, as he drove through the hurricane zone on Sept. 1. “It’s bad. We’re down here, and every fifth house has a roof gone. There are trees down everywhere. Almost every tree is topped.”

Most of Southeast Louisiana, from Baton Rouge to the Mississippi state line, remains without power. Service crews are working to restore that electricity, and progress is being made, but the job is daunting.

“Power lines are down everywhere,” Sumrall said. “These people are looking at a month, a month and a half without power.”

There are signs of progress however. For instance, Sumrall said main roads are by and large cleared.

The ongoing problem is securing supplies.

“There’s no gas or nothing,” Sumrall said.

The angler said he’s been helping tarp roofs to prevent more damage from rains. Xpress Boats, one of his sponsors, also is working to organize relief.

“Xpress is getting a bunch of stuff together: water, tarps and fuel,” Sumrall explained.

He said he hopes more relief arrives soon, pointing out that the people of South Louisiana are already doing what they can.

“These people are proud,” Sumrall said. “They didn’t leave when a Category 4 hurricane hit, so they aren’t going to be jumping up and down asking for help.”

But the need is just so great, with more work around every corner.

“I’m looking at a house right now: flattened,” Sumrall said. 

Other Elite Series anglers were hauling supplies into the affected area by mid-week.

Hank Cherry was en route from his home in North Carolina to South Louisiana with two truckloads of food and supplies. Cherry planned to join Brock Mosley to distribute the goods to those in need, including Rivet and his family in the impacted area. The three pros are roommates on the tour. 

“First, I want to help my B.A.S.S. family, and the Rivets were on my mind as the hurricane came through their area,” Cherry said. “Also, the people of Louisiana have been good to me throughout my career, and I just felt the need to do something for them all.” 

The trucks, owned by Cherry’s sponsor Woods To Water Outdoor Co., of Cherryville, N.C., were fully loaded, and he already planned to make another trip, after a GoFundMe relief account produced more than $6,000 used to purchase the food and supplies. 

“I’m staying to distribute everything so I know where it will all go, instead of handing it off to an agency,” Cherry said. “I also want to be there, cook food for the first responders, support them and show my support and gratitude.”