The fishing world was focused on this week’s ICAST, during which Bassmaster Elite Series pros helped launch the industry’s newest gadgets. Five of those pro anglers, however, also have been keeping an eye on a tropical storm churning toward their Louisiana homes.
Tropical Storm Barry is projected to move ashore along coastal Louisiana this week, strengthening to a Category 1 hurricane just before landfall. However, the biggest concerns are monsoon-like rains expected to fall on a region still recovering from historic flooding in 2016.
Rainfall projections for Southeast Louisiana range upwards of 25 inches.
“We just don’t need it,” Prairieville, La., pro Quentin Cappo said. “We’ve been dealing with high water going on two and a half years now. It’s not a good deal.
Cappo said his home is unlikely to flood, but his parents are not so lucky.
Robbie Latuso, who lives in nearby Gonzales, La., agreed that rainfall was the biggest concern.
“I don’t think wind is going to be a big issue,” Latuso said. “It’s going to be water. My main concern would be my house flooding.
“If it doesn’t flood, we’ll be alright.”
No matter what happens to his house, Latuso said his Service Master business will get cranking to clean out and dry homes that will inevitably flood. Fortunately, however, his son Logan runs the business while Robbie Latuso is on the road, so the elder Latuso’s participation in this season’s final Elite Series events shouldn’t be impacted.
Tyler Rivet lives closer to the Gulf in Raceland, La., so he left ICAST a day early to ensure he could make it home before any possible airport shutdown occurs in New Orleans. While he shares Latuso’s concern about flooding, Rivet said he doesn’t expect to be directly affected.
“We’re expecting like 16 inches of rain where we’re at,” Rivet said. “My house is on high ground. Well, I don’t think anything in (South) Louisiana is high, but our house is higher.”
Caleb Sumrall’s and Tyler Carriere’s biggest concerns centered on getting home from ICAST. The most up-to-date forecasts show Barry’s eye passing anywhere between Lafayette, La., and Baton Rouge. The worst of the rains always occur to the east of a storm’s eye.
Sumrall lives in New Iberia and Carriere lives in Youngsville; both cities are south of Lafayette.
The bottom line is that New Orleans will likely get tons of rain, and the city flooded earlier this week from a large thunderstorm. So Sumrall and Carriere weren’t certain their flights would go off without a hitch.
That said, neither pro was worried about their homes. Sumrall said he hopes to get home to close up his storm shutters and board up the windows, and then he and his family will just sit tight until things calm down.
“Every time there’s a storm it makes me nervous,” Sumrall said. “But I’ve ridden out worse storms.”
Carriere said his wife has filled gas cans for their generator in case electricity blinks out, and he’ll get everything else squared away if he can get home before the brunt of the storm hits. He said he will hop in with fellow Elite pro Brett Preuett, who drove to Orlando and lives in North Louisiana, if his flight is canceled.
“When I get home (on Friday evening), I’ll hook the boat up to the truck,” he explained. “I need to lay down the basketball net and put pins in to keep the trampoline from blowing around.
“We should be alright over there. We’re high enough. It’ll take a lot to flood us out.”
Derek Hudnall, who lives just north of Baton Rouge, said his place will be in great shape, come what may.
“My house is built up 18 inches, so we shouldn’t have any problems,” he explained.
However, Sumrall said there could be widespread damage to homes throughout the Southeast Louisiana region if the projected rainfall comes to pass. So, even if these Elite pros come through Barry unscathed, they will likely head to next month’s Elite Series stop at the St. Lawrence River as friends and family deal with the aftermath of the tropical storm’s deluge.
“I went (to the Houston area) and helped after (Hurricane) Harvey,” Sumrall said. “So I’ve got the full grip on what that much water can do.”