Louisiana's Cajun Navy Told Help Not Needed in New Bern After Trying to Lend a Hand in Hurricane-Battered Carolinas

Pam Wright
Published: September 14, 2018

Louisiana's famed Cajun Navy was in New Bern, North Carolina, Friday to help with rescues until local emergency management told them their help was not needed because all rescues would be handled by local emergency crews.

"Per a meeting with New Bern N.C. EOC, they said they will respond to ALL calls for rescue and evacuation," the group posted to Facebook. "We are no longer in New Bern N.C. pending new area to stage and respond to calls."

Initially, it appeared the group was told to leave, but a subsequent post clarified that the team of rescuers decided to leave New Bern because officials at the emergency operations center told them they had enough first responders to handle the situation.

"We are not standing down," the group posted. "No order was given for us to. We cleared EOC in New Bern North Carolina and are moving down the coast."

Before leaving the flooded city, Clyde Cain, admiral of the Louisiana Cajun Navy, which is based in Hammond, Louisiana, told weather.com his team of 20 men traveled to the Carolinas this week with 10 boats. He said the team was struggling with the conditions Friday as they attempted to respond to rescues in the New Bern area.

"The biggest problem is the wind," he said. "It's hard to maneuver the boats with the winds pushing them around. And right now, we have Forrest Gump rain coming down," referring to the popular film in which the main character talks about rain falling horizontally.

(MORE: New Bern to 150 Stranded Residents: 'We Are Coming to Get You')

Cain noted that some of the rescues can be a little unorthodox.

"We had one guy who wanted us to rescue his boots from his truck," Cain said. "We came across another guy walking through chest-deep water. He really could have stayed in place because he has a second story on his home that wasn't flooded."

Throughout the night Thursday into Friday, members of several volunteer Cajun Navy groups that formed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina were in New Bern responding to frantic 911 calls from people trapped in their homes and vehicles from rising waters.

Todd Terrell, the founder of the Baton Rouge-based United Cajun Navy, told the Herald-Sun his team came with about 35 or 40 boats.

“By about 5 o’clock we are going to have a couple hundred,” Terrell said Thursday.

Even before the storm arrived, teams of Cajun Navy were on hand to help residents and businesses board up windows and get people to shelters.

Last year, Cajun Navy teams rescued hundreds of people in the Houston area during the catastrophic flooding from Hurricane Harvey. The group was even mentioned in President Donald Trump's 2018 State of the Union address:

"Through it all, we have seen the beauty of America’s soul and the steel in America’s spine. Each test has forged new American heroes to remind us who we are and show us what we can be,” Trump said. “We saw the volunteers of the Cajun Navy racing to the rescue with their fishing boats to save people in the aftermath of a totally devastating hurricane.”

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