It's been nearly a year since Hurricane Ida devastated the area down in Lafitte and that's nearly a year that the people who have been fishing and shrimping for a lifetime have been without their livelihoods. It's taking its toll.
“From now 'til next week, it's going to be really bad for me, because the season opens Monday at 6 o'clock, and I don't have a boat to go trawling in,” shrimper Kirk Fisher said.
Fisher has made a living and raised a family bringing Louisiana gulf seafood to tables for half a century. He started shrimping when he was 13-years-old.
“I raised a kid, my wife, and two granddaughters and I'm still here,” Fisher said.
But he, and so many others down in Lafitte, are in the same boat. Hurricane Ida washed their vessels away.
“And nobody could find it. It was upside down, sunk,” he said.
Kirk was angry. He didn't know who, or even if it was the federal government, who gave orders for an out-of-state salvage company to scrap his wrecked boat. It's one he made with his own two hands.
“They actually stole our living. I mean how would they like it if I went over there and told them. ‘Hey, get the hell out of here. You don't own this no more. It's for me, and I'm smashing it,’” Fisher said.
The same thing happened to Thomas Olivier.
“You don't even know how mad I am about this,” fisherman Thomas Olivier said.
But many trawling vessels still sit wrecked in the bayou. Most owners have no insurance to lift them.
“The three places I called wanted $15,000 a year. There goes your living,” Fisher said.
But now a businessman is volunteering his time and company assets to pull them up, one by one, free, in hopes the boats and livelihoods can be resurrected.
“You had a boat that you worked your whole life with, right? People come in to help each other here like nowhere else in the world,” Louisiana State Representative, Tim Kerner, Sr. (R) District 84 said.
For Grant Bundy, it's meant a paycheck for him, his family and his employees.
“That's awesome. That's great. That's awesome,” Grant Bundy, owner of Bundy Seafood said.
The boats come to his dock with their daily haul. He unloads and ices tens of thousands of pounds of fresh shrimp to get them to processors and distributors, but with no boats above water, his business is treading water.
“We pay everything out of pocket. So, it's put a licking on us. It was hard. We barely made it,” Bundy said.
Lifting these boats is a gift and good news for Grant and other fisherman, but for Thomas and Kirk, who just lost his wife of 48 years, the future remains uncertain.
“Pretty tough. I don't go to sleep 'til 2, 3 o'clock in the morning. I just stay up staring at the walls, thinking about the boat and how I'm going to get one back,” Fisher said.
And that business owner, on Saturday, will be pulling up 11 more boats. He's already pulled up five and he hopes to do more in the future.
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