Cajun Navy Volunteers Jump Into Action in Wake of Hurricane Ida

by Matthew Memrick

In post-Hurricane Ida floodwaters, Cajun Navy volunteers have jumped into action to rescue many Louisiana residents.

Like they did after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and other hurricanes, the volunteer group worked hard to help in this week’s rescue efforts.

Cajun Navy fleet captain Jordy Bloodsworth talked to Today Show hosts about his work on Monday. Bloodsworth said the group consisted of everyday men and women volunteers who got their boats and supplies to help with the rescues.

On Monday morning, the Today Show hosts said there were reports of up to 1,000 people looking for rescues from houses. 

Bloodsworth said he had a list of 30 addresses with up to nine people at certain homes he had to help in the LaPlace area, northwest of New Orleans. He said he was likely to find and rescue 100 people right there.

“I’m on my way right now to meet with the (St. John’s Parish) sheriff and get with his guys to get briefed with them,” Bloodsworth said.

Bloodsworth said he’ll have his team with him to work with them and under them to rescue people. He said the goal was to split up and recover everyone as quickly as possible. LaPlace, Metairie, Orleans Parish, Jefferson Parish, and New Orleans were among the hardest-hit areas. 

Contacting The Cajun Navy 

While victims were using social media to contact them, Bloodsworth said the best way to reach the group was by calling 911. He said the struggle was getting to places with his car and getting his boat in the right place. 

Bloodsworth said he had 20-25 people working with the Cajun Navy. There were a dozen or so boats with chainsaws, ATVs, and high water vehicles. But if he needed more help, he was sure he could find it.

“One of the beautiful things about Louisiana is that when we need help, we put out a call for more help,” Bloodsworth said. “Help shows up, and it shows up pretty quick.”

Cajun Navy Comes From All Over

In Houma, a small city southwest of New Orleans, the “Cajun Navy” volunteers worked very early Monday morning to get to people.

According to Reuters, reports of trapped victims led the volunteers to Lafayette. One man, 52-year-old Rob Gaudet from Baton Rouge, was working on dozens of distress calls. 

“If they can get on the roof, that’s better. You don’t want to be in the attic when the water is rising,” Gaudet told a caller. The caller worried about two older women stuck in waist-deep water in LaPlace.

A group of four men from Texas and Georgia came to Houma after midnight. High winds hit the town, but it did not suffer significant flooding.

With powerlines down and impassible roads, they slowly traveled a few blocks to a hotel. There, they found a victim they rescued. 

While they couldn’t find who made the call, they found a 60-year-old woman who had fallen down the stairs during the winds. Volunteer Pete Sterk waded through the water and was able to reach her in her room. 

Sterk made the woman a temporary neck brace and tried to calm her. With EMS service suspended until the morning, she had to stay put because of the unpassable roadways.