Hundreds of boat owners are in the Houston, Texas, area this week to help rescue those stranded by the historic flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey. Duck boats, jonboats, airboats, kayaks, and more have all been deployed in an effort to help those affected.
The Cajun Navy, so named for its high number of southern Louisiana boat owners, first formed in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit that state. Made up 100 percent of volunteers, the organization decided to help themselves rather than wait for governmental aid that might or might not come. Their slogan: “We the people of Louisiana refuse to stand by and wait for help in the wake of disasters in our State. We rise up and unite and rescue our neighbors!”
“The reality of the Cajun Navy is everybody out here with a boat that isn’t devastated gets out and helps others,” Clyde Cain, who runs the Louisiana Cajun Navy’s Facebook page, told USA Today in 2016. “We’re just one big network.”
“I can’t look at somebody knowing that I have a perfect boat in my driveway to be doing this and to just sit at home,” Jordy Bloodsworth told Baton Rouge’s The Advocate. “I have every resource within 100 feet of me to help.”
While Louisiana faired better than Texas, there was still a large amount of rainfall dropped on the Pelican State. Many of the Cajun Navy’s volunteers are working men, but with their jobs largely closed on Monday due to the storm, they were freed up to head west and help their neighboring state.
The navy uses a new/old form of technology to stay in touch with each other across the water. The group employs Zello, an app that allows those with smartphones to talk via a CB-radio-style walkie-talkie system. Not only does the navy use it, but it also encourages those who are stranded to download the app and search for “Texas search and rescue.” They can then speak directly to local officials and have help sent to them.
Officially, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has dispatched a Department of Wildlife and Fisheries search-and-rescue team to Texas with two more on standby, as well as other crews.
“Nearly 12 years ago, Texans opened their doors to the people of Louisiana when Hurricane Katrina devastated our state,” Edwards told The Advocate. “In 2016, Texas Taskforce 1 was dispatched to our state to provide support during the historic floods. We will do nothing less to support the people of Texas in any way that we can as they respond and recover from Hurricane Harvey.”
Harvey was the first hurricane to hit Texas since 2008’s Ike and the strongest since 1961’s Carla. With many drawing comparisons to Hurricane Katrina, FEMA director Brock Long said Harvey was a storm “the likes of which the United States has not seen yet.”
“FEMA is going to be there for years,” Long told CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday. “This disaster is going to be a landmark event.”
Our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by Hurricane Harvey. To learn more about how you can help, visit redcross.org/donate/hurricane-harvey.