The "Cajun Navy" Is A Host Of Louisiana Residents Serving As Rescue Workers

by Tara Merrigan
Handout/Getty Images News/Getty Images

After Hurricane Harvey dumped roughly two feet of rain in the Houston, TX, area over the weekend, sending floodwaters through city streets and thoroughfares, some Louisiana residents are taking it upon themselves to aid the rescue mission. According to media reports, members of the so-called "Cajun Navy" are driving to Houston, boats in tow, to fish residents out of the rising floodwaters.

For members of Cajun Navy, an informal network of well-meaning but untrained first responders, it's hard to ignore the plight of Houston residents given that the city is just one state over. "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," said Jordy Bloodsworth, a member of the Cajun Navy living in Baton Rouge, according to The Advocate. "I have every resource within 100 feet of me to help.”

Furthermore, for these Southern Louisianans, the memory of the help Houston provided after Hurricane Katrina is still fresh in their minds — they feel they are indebted to help out a city that helped their state when it faced a similar crisis. “We’re just more than willing to go and help wherever we can.” 39-year-old Joey Hains of Lafayette, LA, told USA Today.

According to The New Yorker, the Cajun Navy was founded last August when a storm brought three times more rain to Louisiana than Hurricane Katrina had. Seeing that the people of his state needed help immediately, Louisiana resident John Bridgers started a Facebook group called "Cajun Navy 2016," a name borrowed from a similar informal group of boat owners who assisted with post-Katrina efforts. And through the efforts of private citizens like Bridgers, a number of lives were saved by the 2016 iteration of the Cajun Navy.

“When you pull up to an individual’s house and they’re wading out of five feet of water with a duffel bag over their head, and you pull them into your boat, you realize that’s all they’ve got in that moment,” Bridgers told The New Yorker. “That stays with you, for good and bad.”

Now these Louisiana residents are taking whatever kind of boat they have — these range from hunting boats to kayaks, according to USA Today — to save more lives in Houston. And their efforts have been well-received thus far; even Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards wished them well on Sunday: "Good luck to the #CajunNavy headed to help our neighbors in Texas," he tweeted.