News & Politics

The Government Can't Help You, But the Cajun Navy Can

Louisiana was devastated by record-level flooding last week, when an astonishing  630 inches of rain fell in a 72-hour-period, hitting both southern Louisiana and parts of Mississippi.

The situation has left the community devastated. Scott McKay at The American Spectator describes:

As of this writing, some 20 of the state’s 64 parishes are now under a disaster declaration, with another handful likely to follow as the state’s rivers swell beyond their banks and spill into streets and homes. More — well more — than 40,000 homes have been destroyed, and well north of 40,000 people have evacuated. The sheriff in Livingston Parish, just east of Baton Rouge, estimates that 105,000 people in a parish with a population of about 135,000 have “lost everything.” The eastern half of East Baton Rouge Parish, which lies on the opposite bank of the Amite River from Livingston, suffered similar damage.

David Key boats away from his flooded home after reviewing the damage in Prairieville, La., Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016. Key, an insurance adjuster, fled his home as the flood water was rising with his wife and three children and returned today to assess the damage. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)

The lesson of Hurricane Katrina was not to depend on the government to come and save you.  After the floods last week, the Cajun Navy, a local volunteer group with boats and cars, deployed to rescue their troubled neighbors. No one was going to stick around waiting for the government to show up. The community has become its own first responders.

The Cajun Navy used Facebook to coordinate its rescue efforts.  The Times-Picayune:

As thousands were stranded inside their homes as Louisiana floodwaters rose this weekend, social media users shared photos and thanks for the “Cajun Navy.” The term was affectionately applied to the many fishermen, hunters and leisure boaters who arrived to provide back up to official first responders backed up with emergency calls for stranded residents.

The “Cajun Navy” faced no less strenuous work, according to one such volunteer. Chris Macaluso, a Baton Rouge resident, used his own boat to help get neighbors to dry ground from his own subdivision.

“I had access to a boat I could use but, man, they got a lot of (people) in duck hunting boats riding around these neighborhoods who have no idea where they’re going, but they’re just here to help,” Macaluso said. “This is not easy work.”

“The reality of the Cajun Navy is everybody out here with a boat that isn’t devastated gets out and helps others,” said Clyde Cain, a 53-year-old from Tangipahoa Parish who runs the Facebook page Louisiana Cajun Navy. “We’re just one big network.”

Residents from all over the state mobilized to help their flooded neighbors. Troy Green from Ascension Parish headed to East Baton Rouge Parish ready to help. “I am here to help,” he said. “Where do you need me?”

Green said he had nine people, a cat, and two dogs aboard his boat. He was planning on returning the next day to retrieve a lady’s bird.

The flooding has brought some looting to the stricken area. East Baton Rouge deputies arrested four men on suspicion of looting.  Detectives found $750 of merchandise in their car after they were spotted leaving a car Monday night. Other reports out have the number of looters arrested at 14.

As of today, President Obama, who is on vacation,  has not visited the state and its flood victims. In fact, Obama hasn’t even made a statement on the devastation. The Washington Times reported that Obama was briefed on the situation and then promptly headed back to the golf course. Obama did speak with FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate on Wednesday from Martha’s Vineyard where the president told Fugate to use  “all resources available” to help the community. Well, Mr. President, the Cajun Navy is way ahead of you on that.