Cajun Navy Preparing for Water Rescues

September 12, 2018, 10:14 am EST | Share:

MOUNT PLEASANT, SC (CAROLINE BALCHUNAS, WTAT-TV) — As past storms have proven, first responders can’t always get to everyone right away.

But if there’s flooding, the ‘Cajun Navy’ is usually nearby. The volunteer group of boaters is standing by to help with Hurricane Florence.

Members have their eyes on North Carolina from Elizabethtown to Lumberton.

Jamie Hough is one of the members coordinating efforts from his Mount Pleasant home on Tuesday.

He said, so far, 50 people have signed up to help with Florence.

“I’ve got folks putting together truckloads of stuff in the Keys right now to come up here and in Texas, Louisiana and Alabama,” Hough said. “We work in pairs, two people in a boat and two boats together, what’s called an approach boat and then you have a backup boat.”

Hough said they’re currently in a holding pattern trying to narrow down resources and places for crews to go.

“One of the main things and it’s kind of crass to say, but we try to help those who can’t help themselves, not so much people who won’t help themselves,” he said. “So, if you’ve been told to get out of your area, get out of your area.”

Last year, Hough drove his truck and boat to Houston to help after Hurricane Harvey. He said in four days, they rescued 180 people.

Despite a volunteer fleet of licensed boat captains, efforts don’t always go smoothly.

“One of the issues I’m afraid we’re going to run into when we get to North Carolina is kind of red tape situation with local law enforcement,” said Hough. “It started out that way in Houston. The first couple of days and then all of a sudden, they realized there were thousands of people that they couldn’t get to, they weren’t ready to get to.”

The Cajun Navy operates solely on donations, but Hough says members usually end up spending their own money on fuel and accommodations.

He said a majority of their donation money ends up feeding people in need.

For inquiries, questions or assistance, Hough said there are two ways to donate: Venmo @redfishmafia or Paypal at theredfishmafia@gmail.com