Cajun Navy Saves Thousands of Harvey Victims

Louisiana natives make a name in Texas.

Cajun Navy Saves Thousands of Harvey Victims

By Nia Botti, Staff Writer

Hurricane Harvey brought destruction and devastation to the Greater Houston area. Numerous residents spent several nights in shelters in order to escape their flooded homes.  Though many people were able to evacuate before the flooding, some streets were quickly and unexpectedly filled with water.  Homeowners would have been left in their homes treading water if it had not been for the Cajun Navy.

The Cajun Navy was founded by Louisiana boat owners during Hurricane Katrina, which had a heavy impact on New Orleans.  People often mistake the Cajun Navy for a branch of the military, but it isn’t one at all.  It’s simply a group of Louisiana boat owners that register their boats for hurricane relief help.  Steve Elston*, a Baton Rouge, Louisiana native living in the Houston area, has a connection to the Cajun Navy because both his brother and son are registered. “There’s a website.” Elston says. “Residents of Louisiana can register their boats online, and they’ll be notified when there’s a storm that causes flooding.”

Residents of Louisiana can register their boats online, and they’ll be notified when there’s a storm that causes flooding.”

— Steve Elston

Cajun Navy members are then assigned a location to take their boats. They hook them up to a trailer and drive to the place in which they are needed.  They get up to the floodwaters, where they launch their boats and drive around looking for people in need of rescue.  A boat takes as many people as size allows to a location where citizens can find their way to a shelter or to transportation.  Though the process may seem simple at first glance, a lot more goes into the Cajun Navy operation than just riding around in boats.

 Hurricane Harvey fiercely impacts Texas.

First, as part of the team, members must be committed to carrying out their duties.  When being assigned to a job, members must realize that the lives of people in an area depend on their commitment.  Failure to be at the right place at the right time may result in danger for storm victims.  Another important part of the rescue process is communication.  In order for rescuers to work efficiently and make sure every house receives attention, they must exchange information with one another.  Cajun Navy members communicate by using Zello, a walkie talkie app available on smartphones, which makes the rescue process quicker and more efficient.   The operation must be completed flawlessly and without mistakes.

Hurricane Harvey victims needed the Cajun Navy more than ever when Harvey arrived.  Although the US Government did help, they’re all the way up in Washington DC.  Harvey was an urgent emergency, and a quick, efficient solution was needed in order to save the lives of the people in the Greater Houston Area.  Fortunately, Texas didn’t have to do much thinking because Louisiana was already there to provide relief.  Within hours, the Cajun Navy had been assigned locations and was already helping rescue their Texan neighbors.  In the end, the Cajun Navy saved thousands of people.

Many people in the state of Texas have become inspired to take part in an operation like the Cajun Navy, but feel that they cannot because they aren’t Cajun.  Some may see this as a limiting factor, but it isn’t one at all.  Texas has several operations that have been set up to do good for others during storms.  One of these is the Redneck Army.  The Redneck Army is a group of Texans with raised trucks that can drive through high floodwaters.  Just as Cajuns are famous for their boats, Texans are known for their trucks.  For people that don’t have a truck or boat that can get through high floodwaters, volunteer work and donation are always options.  LCISD Common Threads has numerous jobs for people looking to help out.  Churches and shelters are also working on relief. There’s a chance for every citizen to make a difference!

Texans now know that they can count on Cajuns in a time of need.  The Lone Star State is grateful to the Cajun Navy, and has become inspired to get involved not just in their community, but in the communities of others, too.  When tragedy strikes somewhere else, will Texas follow by example and serve others, just as Louisiana served them?

*Steve Elston is a relation to the writer.

Further Reading:

Watch a FOX 8 New Orleans Cajun Navy news report below