In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, which struck several Gulf states as a category 4 hurricane last Friday, help was desperately needed in the Houston area. Areas of Texas received nearly 52 inches of rain, with the state getting a total of 11 trillion gallons of rainfall in just five days. The resulting flooding forced thousands to leave their homes and seek refuge in shelters.
Unfortunately, not everyone was able to get out of their homes or find a safe route to a shelter in time. Thousands in the Houston area remained trapped in their homes and apartments as the flood waters continued to rise. They were without power; many were without food or other basic supplies. Local first responders were doing the best they could to find and evacuate people. The Texas National Guard’s entire 12,000 members were called in to help with the search and rescue operations.
Then somebody else showed up on the scene to help out — and help out fast. It was the Cajun Navy!
Formed after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Louisiana Cajun Navy is a group of all volunteers who come to the rescue of flood victims in times of crisis, aiding in the efforts of first responders and other disaster response teams. With their “fleet” of boats — personal, recreational, and fishing boats — and a selfless desire to help strangers in need, these men and women were some of the first on the scene in the Houston area to help rescue people and animals trapped by flood waters.
Cajun Navy volunteer Joshua Lincoln told CNN, “In my life I’ve been through a lot of storms including Katrina. Seeing how people in Texas responded and helped us in a disaster kind of tugged at my heart. My house was flooded and I lost all kinds of things during Katrina.”
They coordinate via radio and the smartphone app, Zello, to rescue those in need and to search areas — sometimes even just going door to door by boat. They have been heroes to hundreds of people and animals following the devastating and deadly flooding of Hurricane Harvey.
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Along with coordinating to rescue people trapped by the flooding, the Cajun Navy brought with it trucks full of water, food, and supplies for victims of Hurricane Harvey. The armada of volunteers took donations in their hometowns in Louisiana and along their route to Houston, but only donations of goods and no monetary donations.
As for why they are dropping everything to risk their own lives and property to help the people of Texas, Cajun Navy member Todd Gaspard said it’s “just the way we were brought up. You help your neighbor.”
“We started deploying people (Monday) morning at 3 a.m. Our goal is to help people get out if they are trapped in their homes or apartments, get them to safety,” said Cajun Navy organizer Clyde Cain. He said of the Cajun Navy’s efforts in Houston, with the extensive flooding from Hurricane Harvey, “We have no idea how long it’s going to last.”
The Cajun Navy shows the true spirit of neighbors helping neighbors, strangers from all walks of life coming together for the single purpose of doing what good they can for those in need at a time when help is needed most. Watch them in action in the video below!
Jacob H. is an award-winning journalist and photojournalist who currently resides is West Michigan with his wife. In his spare time, Jacob enjoys writing, photography, mountain climbing, and camping.