Texans may join Cajun Navy Relief in Saturday training

Published 8:57 am Monday, April 9, 2018

By Ken Stickney


Cajun Navy Relief, which responded en masse to Houston and the Golden Triangle during Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey last August and September, is planning a Saturday search-and-rescue exercise in Henderson Bay, Louisiana, practice for the next time the volunteers are called into action.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

This time, a spokesman said, the Louisianians may be joined by Texans who are inquiring about how they, too, can help.

Amy Jones, a spokesman for Cajun Navy Relief, which is based in New Orleans, said the point of Saturday’s practice, presented as Search and Rescue Games, is to sharpen skills. She said registration and set up is scheduled for 7 a.m. at Henderson Bay, 15 minutes east of Lafayette, on property belonging to St. Martin Land Co., but may be delayed because of weather.

“We have a couple of boats from Texas coming over,” Jones said. “We definitely have people from Texas asking about getting in.”

She said the exercises are deadly serious and will involve use of airboats and new software and natural disaster rescue scenarios.

Training will also involve onshore dispatchers and rescue teams on the water, who will learn how to locate those who need help and return them to safe spaces.

She said the event would involve about 20 participants.

Shawn Boudreaux, chairman of Cajun Navy Relief, said the exercises have been planned for months and the training “will give us the simulation training we need to be better prepared for the next natural disaster that will hit anywhere in the Southern region of the United States.”

The schedule includes:

  • 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. — registration.
  • 9 a.m. — Search and rescue games start
  • 1 p.m. — Boats return to base
  • 2 p.m. — lunch and winner announced

The Cajun Navy formed as a loosely knit group of volunteer rescuers during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and places nearby in 2005. The ad hoc group originated mostly in Acadiana, the heavily Cajun areas along the Louisiana coast, and effected rescues using their small fishing vessels.

Additional Cajun Navy rescues were made in 2016 during flooding in the Baton Rouge area.

During Hurricane Harvey, the Cajun Navy was credited with more than 5,000 documented rescues in South East Texas in cities including Houston, Beaumont, Vidor, Port Arthur and Orange.

Cajun Navy Relief is a federally recognized 501c3 organization.