The “Cajun Navy” Is Answering the Call of Duty
Louisiana volunteers arrived in Texas with boats in tow ready to rise above flood waters and rescue at-risk Houstonians.
While Texans are quick to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, their scrappy Louisiana neighbors are always ready to lend a helping hand—come hell or high water.
Since Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Texas coast Friday night as a Category 4 storm, its prolonged torrential rains continue to cause unprecedented and catastrophic flooding across the country’s fourth largest city, where the need for search-and-rescue manpower is at an all-time high amongst the Houston metro area’s 5.6 million residents.
Cue the Cajun Navy.
What started as a nickname for unofficial boat-based volunteers during emergencies in the Bayou State, most recently in Baton Rouge after its devastating 2016 flood, the Cajun Navy consists of heroic Louisianian volunteers who flock to flooded communities with their flotilla of fishing boats to rescue flood victums. These grassroot groups across Louisiana have mobilized for Texas, with many volunteers already in the Houston area lending a much-needed hand to Texans.
“When it looked like Texas was in trouble, we knew we had to go,” shared Toney Wade, commander of Cajun Coast Search and Rescue, a volunteer group of mostly firefighters based in Jeanerette, Louisiana.
Wade, along with a caravan of 16 volunteers, six boats, five K-9s, and one high-water vehicle, headed to the Lone Star State at 2:30 a.m. on Sunday morning. The group has been working with the Office of Emergency Management in Galveston County to coordinate search-and-rescue missions. Within their first day on the job in Dickinson, a community southeast of Houston, they’ve already made a lasting impact on dozens of lives, from aging parents to abandoned puppies.
“We rescued about 30 people on Sunday, including some elderly guests stranded on the second story of a flooded hotel,” shares Wade. “We also rescued six dogs and one very frightened cat.”
The volunteer group will continue their rescue efforts throughout the week, along with other convoys of Louisiana volunteers, including Cajun Navy 2016, a group organized in Baton Rouge after last year’s flood, who have also headed to the Lone Star State with boats in tow.
These Louisiana sportsmen-turned-Samaritans are truly volunteering their time and equipment from the goodness of their hearts, paying for most expenses themselves. But according to Wade, they are fueled by their fervor for helping people.
“I’ve been doing search-and-rescue work for decades. We’re not paid, so it’s truly a passion for all of us volunteers,” shares Wade. “We don’t have any set borders on where we’ll go. We’ll travel anywhere in the country...anywhere people need our help.”
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