Friday, October 20 2017
The name Cajun Navy first came about in August of 2005 during the severe flooding that occurred from Hurricane Katrina in the New Orleans and surrounding areas. A plea was put out by local officials for volunteers with boats to assist with the rescue efforts of thousands of stranded people.
In August of 2016, a series of severe thunderstorms dumped up to 36” of rain in 48 hours, flooding many areas in south Louisiana. This time there was no warning as the flooding was a direct result of a storm without a name. When the floodwaters began to rise, the Cajun Navy reemerged as Louisiana Sportsmen volunteers took to the floodwaters to help stranded victims. Many of the volunteers had lost their own homes and possessions just as the victims they were helping did. This major flood event would later be called the 1000 year flood for Louisianans, and one that most will never forget. Social media and smartphone apps played a vital part in the rescue efforts with this particular event.
Alongside of local first responders, the Cajun Navy rescued thousands of people during this devastating flood. Once the flood waters receded, the volunteers did not stop to rest. They continued gathering donated food, water and other supplies, and began delivering these items to those in need. Many people had lost their vehicles due to the high waters, so the much needed supplies were delivered to them directly. The next phase of efforts was focused on gutting and mucking houses, and rebuilding, gathering and installing used appliances for those who could not afford them. There were thousands of people and businesses that lived/resided in NO FLOOD ZONES which meant they were not required to have flood insurance so most did not have this specific coverage. It was obvious the recovery would be long and costly.
When hurricane Harvey hit Texas in August of 2017, it dumped up to 56" of rain in some areas causing another record flooding event. The Governor of Louisiana John Bel Edwards, called on the Cajun Navy once again. Thousands of Louisiana volunteers answered the call, they put their lives on hold, and they headed to Texas. The Cajun Navy 2016 set up its command center the following morning at Costco in the parking lot in Baton Rouge. Boats, RV and trucks with flatbed trailers poured in. As people went into Costco to shop they would purchase supplies and donate them to the Cajun Navy. Every boat that left out of Costco for the next 5 days was loaded and ready. During the rescue process, social media was utilized to gather rescue requests and relay them to our dispatchers. Various apps were also used to coordinate efforts as well. History was made that week to the glory of God as He used this ministry to bless victims of this terrible storm, to bless our volunteers and supporters, and to bless our leadership with all it needed to accomplish the task at hand. Not only were people rescued, but supplies were delivered to various staging points and areas of need as well.
In 2005 we were trained. In 2016 we were tested. And in 2017 we have proven the organization and capabilities of the Cajun Navy is viable in times of disaster. The hearts of the volunteer men and women who served and continue to serve are not only warm with compassion but also contagious to others. When disaster comes, the Louisiana Governor said "The Cajun Navy fills a void." This void is filled by those who serve and support our organization. We’d like to stop and say thank you to all of those who volunteer and support this ministry whether monetarily, with supplies, or by being the hands and feet of God out in the communities during times of crisis and disaster.
May God bless each of you!
Jon Bridgers Sr.
Cajun Navy 2016
Founder / CEO