Speed Reads

help is on the way

Louisiana's volunteer 'Cajun Navy' is helping Harvey victims as a 'reciprocal gift of love'

The Cajun Navy, a makeshift volunteer group of Louisiana boaters, has banded together to rescue Texans from Hurricane Harvey. On Sunday, a brigade of "pickup trucks and small fishing vessels" traveled more than four hours to the Houston area, hoping to help people who are trapped or stranded, ABC13 reported.

Traversing rising flood waters is nothing new for the group, which formed in 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and subsequently rescued "more than 10,000 people," The New Yorker reported. Originally, it was just 30 people and 23 vessels, but now the group has thousands of members and a Facebook group, Cajun Navy 2016, which has proved crucial to coordinating volunteer efforts.

After Facebook group founder John Bridgers put up a post in the aftermath of Harvey urging people to "like and share the page so that we can again make a difference during yet another disaster," messages started coming in quickly, The New Yorker reported:

Pleas for help started rolling in as people told Bridgers where their grandparents, neighbors, and kids were stranded. "Two Adults lady is 7 months pregnant," one post read. "3 lil ones under the age of 4," another said. "Two elderly in 80s, One in wheelchair. 1 Adult...2' of water in house right now," another read. One message said that several senior citizens were "sitting in water chest deep" in a nursing home. Bridgers hoped that a volunteer or first responder might get wind of the message and head for a home they might otherwise have missed. [The New Yorker]

Volunteers noted how many times Texans have stepped up to help Louisianans, from Hurricane Katrina to the floods last year in Baton Rouge. "It's more of a reciprocal gift of love back to them for what they did for us last year, plus we know they need it," Freda Montgomery, who canceled a trip to the LSU game to help Houston out, told The Advocate. "How many times has Louisiana been in the crossfire and how many times have people from other places helped us?"

The Cajun Army is urging anyone who needs help to download the Zello Walkie Talkie app and type in "Texas search and rescue," or to call the number below for assistance. Becca Stanek