The “Cajun Navy” is on the ground in North Carolina and pulling off many rescues in hazardous conditions as Hurricane Florence continues to dump torrential rains.
Cajun Navy founder Todd Terrell told ABC News that volunteers from the group came to the aid of 160 people who had been trapped by rising flood waters early Friday morning in New Bern.
“The tide came up really strong — five to eight feet, they’re saying — and a lot of the people did not get out … got stuck in conditions on the roads,” Terrell said. “So a lot of people we were rescuing from the tops of their vehicles.”
“The current is way stronger in this one and the water came up like in minutes,” he added. “Two to three feet of water came up within minutes.”
Terrell also related that the winds were so powerful at times their boats were flipping, so they used air mattresses to float some people out.
The Cajun Navy first came together in 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast, and it played a major role in rescue efforts during Hurricane Harvey last year.
Many of its members are from Louisiana and Texas; however, Terrell told Fox News, there are 310 volunteers from nine states helping in their current relief efforts, and he expected the number of rescuers to double by the end of Friday.
— America's Newsroom (@AmericaNewsroom) September 14, 2018
The Louisiana Cajun Navy’s website says the group’s mission is to: “Rescue, Relieve, Rebuild.”
“We don’t wait for the help, We are the help! We the people of Louisiana refuse to stand by and wait for help in the wake of disasters in our state and the country. We rise up to unite and help rescue our neighbors! Our mission is to help the people who can’t get help, not only in the wake of disaster, but in everyday life,” the site reads.
The group advises those in danger to reach out to 911 first, but the Cajun Navy is there to assist in the rescue efforts.
Cajun Navy’s Jordy Bloodsworth, 26, told The Washington Post that he drove 11 hours from Baton Rouge to play his part.
“I wasn’t gonna come, but my boss actually gave me a few paid vacation days and said, ‘Go do your thing,'” said Bloodsworth, who arrived with his 18-foot custom boat that sports a gator tail.
— CajunNavyRelief (@CajunNavyRelief) September 14, 2018
“I figure if I could save even one person it’s worth it,” Bloodsworth said.
His family lost everything during Katrina when 14 feet of water rushed into their home.
Taylor Fontenot, with America’s Cajun Navy, came to New Bern from Sugar Land, Texas.
“Nothing like the adrenaline of saving lives,” he said. “Best drug in the world. It’s what we do.”
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