'Cajun Navy' Scours Houston Floodwaters for Stranded Residents
For The New York Times
Calling themselves the Cajun Navy, volunteers with bass boats, airboats and other small recreational vessels set off in a caravan from Baton Rouge, La., on Monday, bound for flood-devastated Houston.
A nine-hour drive delivered the impromptu flotilla to a sheriff’s training facility, where the volunteers bunked for the night. On Tuesday, one group launched its vessels in Humble, Tex., about 20 miles north of downtown Houston by interstate — or as was the case this week, by uncharted river.
With little formal organization, the Cajun Navy has come to the rescue in previous disasters, supporting emergency workers during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and through catastrophic floods in south-central Louisiana last year.
“We’re trying to do what we can,” said Ben Theriot, pictured, an engineer whose house near Baton Rouge was flooded in last year’s storms. “I had people that I barely knew showing up to help me. The best way you can thank somebody for helping you is to go help somebody else.”
Mr. Theriot and a friend, Clyde Morales, piloted a 20-foot aluminum skiff in driving rain. Calls for help were relayed by a dispatcher using a walkie-talkie app on the men’s phones. To navigate, they followed directions on their phones meant for driving.
After plucking stranded residents from an apartment complex, the men, tired and soaking wet, hauled their boat to dry land and hit the road again. They were headed east, responding to reports that more flooding was expected on the Texas coast and back home in Louisiana.
Text by Edmund D. Fountain and Trip Gabriel