Before Hurricane Laura made landfall in late August, the United Cajun Navy (UCN) was already on the ground in Cameron, Louisiana. As UCN head Todd Terrell told a reporter at The Advocate, there were about 75 boats ready for deployment the day before the storm. Donations of water bottles, Gatorade, Powerade, tarps, gas cans, snack foods, and trash bags were loaded onto high-water vehicles waiting to be dispatched to wherever help might be needed, Terrell reported. Volunteer crews were standing by to help, too.
A Monster Storm
Hurricane Laura broke many records that day. The Category 4 storm came ashore at Cameron at approximately 1:00 AM with sustained winds of 150 mph. It was the largest, strongest hurricane to hit that region in at least a century, weather reports said.
Damaging winds and flooding rainfall knocked out power lines and utilities as houses and businesses were destroyed. Residents who had evacuated to avoid the brunt of the storm returned to find their homes in disrepair. Many families were left in the dark with nothing to eat.
The United Cajun Navy
The UCN had a caravan of 18-wheelers and volunteers on the road to the coast of Southwestern Louisiana bringing water, food, power generators, and other supplies. According to UCN volunteers at ground zero, the devastation left behind by Hurricane Laura was much worse than reported by the news media. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the non-profit not only received fewer donations than in previous years but volunteer manpower has also been limited, their website reported. To meet demands, the group has had to buttress its fleet with volunteers from neighboring states.
The United Cajun Navy is a 501(c)3 registered non-profit organization that mobilizes search and rescue operations during hurricane season. Providing relief through fund-raisers, community-building events, and in-depth training for volunteers, the group organizes search and rescue teams during and following natural disasters. Several volunteers are trained in swift water rescue.
When the National Weather Service issues a storm warning, the United Cajun Navy springs into action. Volunteers and ground personnel arrive on the scene to set up a staging area before weather deteriorates and resident panic sets in. Dispatchers are in constant communication with volunteers and the public, should help be requested. If someone has an immediate need, they get in contact, and help is on the way.
Once the storm passes, UCN volunteers are there to assist those who may have lost a residence or need clean-up help. The volunteers patch roof holes, remove fallen trees, tarp and board up windows and clean out muck. They provide food and water, clothing and even school supplies and toys to those who are affected.
Senior Director of Operations at United Cajun Navy, Chad Fahnestock asked for volunteers to help unload and distribute supplies at 10000 Celtic Drive, Warehouse 7, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Help may still be offered through donations accepted at various locations around the state. Anyone interested in offering assistance can sign up at UnitedCajunNavy.com. All support is welcome.
Jansen/AI supports the United Cajun Navy and their mission. While the UCN has moved on to another disaster now, we ask others to volunteer their time and/or make a donation to help with Hurricane Laura relief efforts at the TX-LA border.
For more information, visit UnitedCajunNavy.com.