Nearly 11 years ago, as Hurricane Katrina brought in a deluge of rain, causing flooding across the state of Louisiana, a group of civilians and their boats gathered to try and rescue those in need of help. 

Dubbed the Cajun Navy, they were later recognized at the Super Dome for the work, which included saving dozens of lives, historian Douglas Brinkley has said

And now, new, deadly flooding this month in the state has brought a version of the Cajun Navy back. And while it’s unclear if it’s the same rescuers or a different loose band of civilians, they’ve taken to their boats to help out in any way they can. 

The help is welcome, and often crucial, though one Cajun Navy volunteer told the Times-Picayune that it could get pretty chaotic. Strong currents flooding through neighborhoods weren’t helping things. 

“I had access to a boat I could use but, man, they got a lot of (people) in duck hunting boats riding around these neighborhoods who have no idea where they’re going, but they’re just here to help,” Macaluso told the Times-Picayune. “This is not easy work.” 


#stcharlesparish has answered again. 20+ boats 40+ men. Just hoping for effective direction today. #holdfast #cajunnavy

A photo posted by Raymond Guedry (@one_way_ray) on

The flooding has already claimed at least five lives, officials have said, while forcing the rescue of some 20,000 residents, and stranding hundreds of others. 

And while the torrential downpours that were the flood’s proximate cause have mostly moved on, officials have been warning of a lingering threat: the probability of more floods downstream as the waters—now centered around Baton Rouge—move south.