In the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, a band of Cajun brothers and sisters came together to form the “Cajun Navy.” These good-hearted volunteers used their own trucks, boats and bare hands to save their neighbors from the destruction when the government failed to arrive in time. The Cajun Navy came to the rescue again following Louisiana’s “Great Flood of 2016.”
According to their Facebook page, the Navy is a group of “captains, men and women, all strangers, with the power of social media” who “refuse to stand by and wait for help in the wake of disasters.” They have learned that emergency services can sometimes be slow to respond after natural disasters. Instead of waiting on the government, they say, “we rise up and unite and rescue our neighbors!” One Louisiana lawmaker, however, couldn’t stand to sit back and allow citizens to take care of themselves.
Then Came Government
Last year, Republican state Sen. Jonathon Perry wanted to make it harder for the volunteer navy to take care of disaster victims by imposing regulatory red tape and fees. He proposed legislation that could require training, certificates and a permit for the Cajun Navy to operate.
In a radio interview last year, Sen. Perry defended his legislation:
At the end of the day, there are going to be two things that are going to be the hurdle when you approach it from the state’s standpoint. Liability is going to be number one for them. They don’t want the liability of someone going out to rescue someone and then not being able to find them, and secondly, there’s a cost.
One Cajun Navy member responded to Sen. Perry’s proposal by writing, “Just once it would be nice to see a state legislator refrain from legislating things that don’t require legislation. But it’s like a disease with these people.”
Another member, Dustin Clouatre, responded to Sen. Perry’s proposal by asking, “How can you regulate people helping people? That doesn’t make sense to me.”
No Slowing Down
The Cajun Navy’s presence continues to grow despite the threat of government regulation. This year, the navy has sophisticated their use of social media and innovative technology to aid rescue efforts.
After Hurricane Harvey, the Cajun Navy was quick to rescue their Texan brothers and sisters by utilizing Twitter, Facebook and an app called “Zello”—which acts similarly to a CB radio—so volunteers could quickly locate and communicate with people who needed assistance.
For now, the Good Samaritans in America’s southern states remain free to save lives without government mandates or fees. They seem to be doing just fine.
Citizens: 1, Regulators: 0.