Louisiana’s "Cajun Navy" knows what they face as they head west to Texas to wade in waist-deep and often shoulder-deep waters to load desperate victims of Hurricane Harvey’s floods into boats. This homespun and determined contingent of courageous helpers were in the direct hit of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and many lost homes, livelihoods, and dear ones. Texas came to the aid of its neighbor state to the east in those times when hope was all but lost, and now, the Cajun Navy is returning the favor. This civilian fleet of floating vessels and folks who know this unspeakable kind of loss are often able to get where government-led services cannot, and none of them will leave until the last person is safe.

Local heroes to national help

In Hurricane Katrina’s wake, it was then Governor, Kathleen Blanco, who called upon the group she knew from Lake Charles. Just 23 vessels and give or take 30 people reached victims long before official responses, and found others that no one could locate. Knowing every beast and every turn of the Bayou gives this outfit advantages that the National Guard and other out-of-state rescuers cannot have. It doesn't hurt that they also know many of the families they save and the multicultural customs and habits that make residents of their state and Texans so unique. On top of everything, they have skills maneuvering their craft of a canoe, kayak, or jet ski that can manage through what once was sedate and isolated residential area.

“Pulling people out of the water was just the right thing to do,” according to Sara Roberts, a member of the original group. Cajun Navy has now grown to thousands, and climate changes in their home state and more have produced catastrophic weather events for them to put their knowledge and practice to work. Many Cajun Navy members were doing all they could in Dickinson, TX this morning, according to local affiliate ABC-13.

Very present danger

Because of the potential of refueling for the now tropical storm Harvey from the Gulf, the Buffalo Bayou is the source of most concern for Houston and the surrounding area. It potentially will rise to 71 feet, the most in history, and lead to more loss. Like many major metropolitan cities, Houston’s development and building wave from the 70s to the present leaves very little soil to absorb floodwaters, and makes rains rush through large inhabited areas for days.

The Colorado River is experiencing rapids in Texas already this morning, and that river stretches 882 miles across three states.

The Cajun Navy now has an open-call appeal posted on Facebook, brandishing a “Please help” caption bubble on an orange background. Organizers proudly announced Saturday their “GREEN LIGHT to enter your area,” referring to their Texas hurricane kindred. The group has now coordinated its efforts through Governor Greg Abbott’s office and has full vetting.

“We rise up and rescue our neighbor,” affirms the Cajun Navy in their Facebook description, and they are proving true to their word, with hundreds of lives already safe in just one day.