(09/02/20) CAMERON, La. — Location determines the extent of damage for those in the fisheries industry have sustained from Hurricane Laura.
Mark Shirley, aquaculture specialist with the LSU AgCenter and Louisiana Sea Grant, said the farther west you go, the worse it is.
“Most of the fishermen in the Vermilion Parish area were able to move their boats and equipment to higher ground before the storm,” he said. “However, the guys in Cameron were hit really hard.”
Shirley said he was far enough from the east side of the storm that he didn’t receive a lot of damage. He said his lights are on, and he didn’t lose anything in his freezer.
“We have fishermen in areas that escaped a lot of damage who are chipping in to help those in need,” he said. Some of that help includes generators, fuel and other supplies.
Thu Bui, AgCenter and Louisiana Sea Grant fisheries agent, said fishermen in the lower St. Mary Parish area dodged a bullet with this storm.
“We were really preparing for that big 12- to 18-foot surge of water that was predicted, but thankfully, that didn’t happen,” she said. “We had about 4 to 5 feet in Intracoastal City, but it could have been a lot worse.”
Bui said there were no boats on land, which is a good thing.
“We have people in the industry from as far away as North Carolina who want to send donations,” she said.
Kevin Savoie, AgCenter agent in Calcasieu Parish, said his home sustained considerable damage.
“We didn’t get much of a surge in this area, but what we did get was wind damage,” he said. “I’m pretty sure we lost some boats, but I haven’t been in touch with any of the fishermen yet.”
He said the fishermen in Cameron normally bring their boats farther north when a storm is coming.
“Some dock in little protected bayous or rivers, and some bring them to the Port of Lake Charles,” he said. “I’m pretty sure even those who docked in Lake Charles still lost some boats.”
He said it will be another week before he can get good numbers on how much damage has been done to the industry.
Wayne Miller, a shrimper in Vermilion and Cameron parishes, said he and his wife sell their shrimp from their house, but because the damage is so bad, he can’t get his boat away from the dock.
“I have a 56-foot double rigger that I operate by myself,” he said. “But the damage that we sustained ends our season for this year.”
Miller said despite the amount of damage that Hurricane Laura caused, it is still a “good hit” compared to Hurricane Rita.
“With Rita, there was nothing left,” he said. “I was one of the lucky ones to have a house, but I had 38 inches of water in it.”
A boat that was grounded in Cameron Parish following Hurricane Laura. Kevin Savoie, AgCenter agent in Calcasieu Parish, said the fisheries industry in that area is basically destroyed. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter