The “Cajun Navy” is a volunteer group that helps with rescue efforts after natural disasters. They arrived in Houston over the weekend with boats ready to help.
Unfortunately, some individuals have become so desperate to escape they’ve resorted to violence, reports CNN. A Cajun Navy volunteer tells of panicked individuals shooting at rescuers and boats in their attempts to secure a means of escape from the rising waters.
— Carol Costello (@CarolHLN) August 28, 2017
The Cajun Navy formed during the Hurricane Katrina disaster after many people were left stranded and in need of rescue during the flooding in Louisiana. Ever since, Cajun Navy members have been volunteering their time and resources to help others who are similarly stranded. Following the horrendous flooding and rains from Hurricane Harvey, Cajun Navy members mobilized from Louisiana with trucks and boats to help with the rescue efforts.
But even with the Cajun Navy’s help, the situation is desperate. US Coast Guard Lieutenant Mike Hart told the press that the people in need of help are beyond what the rescue efforts can handle. “The Coast Guard is continuing to receive upwards of 1,000 calls per hour. Today alone, the Coast Guard has rescued over 3,000 people. That includes both air rescues and rescues using boats,” he said.
Because of the rising waters and the struggling efforts to rescue everyone, some have started to panic.
Clyde Cain, a spokesman for the Cajun Navy, said people in a panic to escape have made rescue efforts complicated. “They’re making it difficult for us to rescue them,” Cain said. “You have people rushing the boat. Everyone wants to get in at the same time. They’re panicking. Water is rising.”
Some extreme cases of desperation have seen people shooting at rescuers in an attempt to hijack their boats. “We have boats being shot at if we’re not picking everybody up. We’re having to pull out for a minute. We’re dropping an airboat right now to go rescue a couple of our boats that broke, and they’re kind of under attack,” Cain said.
While the hostility is appalling, the panic and desperation are understandable considering that flooding is supposed to get a lot worse. Federal officials expect the crest of the flooding to hit later this week, meaning that it’s going to rain more and the water is only going to rise higher.
Even though Hurricane Harvey has been downgraded to a tropical storm, it may have future complications on the rescue efforts, according to the BBC. For instance, the storm is expected to hit Louisiana hard this week, which means many of the Cajun Navy will be forced to divert their rescue efforts back to their own homes.
Despite the instances of hostility, many are peacefully assisting each other through any means they can. In a statement on Monday, President Trump said, “We see neighbor helping neighbor, friend helping friend, and stranger helping stranger. We are one American family. We hurt together, we struggle together and believe me, we endure together.”
He also stated that disaster relief funds should be coming from Congress soon. “You’re going to see very rapid action from Congress – certainly from the president,” Trump said.
As of Monday night, at least 8,000 people were safe in Houston-based shelters. While many more are requiring rescue, the continued efforts of officials and good samaritans like the Cajun Navy will see more lives saved from this disaster.