Ida came ashore yesterday in Louisiana as a Category 4 hurricane. It is now Tropical Storm Ida, still battering parts of Louisiana and Mississippi and leaving more than one million people without electricity.
Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards reminded residents of his state that “The first 72 are on you,” a way of saying that citizens should be equipped to provide for themselves, their families and their pets for at least three days following a major storm.
Because of a high volume of 911 calls and hazardous travel conditions, it is often very difficult for first responders to reach all those in need quickly, especially in low-lying, flood-prone or isolated areas. Therefore, it may take first responders as long as 72 hours to reach people in need.
And in Louisiana, that’s where the United Cajun Navy comes in…
According to its website, the United Cajun Navy is a “united movement across the United States to help people in times of hardship.” Its focus is on “disaster preparedness, search and rescue, disaster relief and recovery – and much more.” (To see some of the “much more,” visit the non-profit’s Facebook page!)
Todd Terrell founded the United Cajun Navy after Hurricane Katrina devastated parts of New Orleans and other communities in 2005. Today, Terrell is president of the organization’s Board of Directors. Growing in the years since Katrina, the United Cajun Navy was formally registered as a 501(c)3 corporation in 2018.
The organization is “100% run by volunteers.” Its website states that no board member or member of the staff “receives payment for their services.” It should be noted that some United Cajun Navy volunteers are reimbursed for authorized expenses (boat fuel, aircraft fuel, truck drivers, equipment rental, etc.) that are receipt-verified; but that only makes sense.
The United Cajun Navy is rated a “Platinum” (the highest rating) non-profit on Guidestar, the largest independent evaluator and rating organization of non-profits. Often, grant organizations use the Guidestar ratings to determine whether to donate to a particular non-profit.
While it is headquartered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, it has grown from an “organization of neighbors helping neighbors” to “a united movement all over the United States to help people in need.”
It has volunteers and supporters in Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia. As it states on the website, the “United Cajun Navy has a very wide reach and is always ready to step in when needed.”
The words below speak for themselves…
“With the help of our tireless staff and volunteers, we organize search and rescue teams during natural disasters. The United Cajun Navy offers support needs for children all across the United States. We provide relief efforts through fundraisers, community building events and in-depth training sessions for our volunteers. We have several locations throughout the United States for our supply chain to reach people in need all over. The United Cajun Navy has provided holiday meals, toys, medical supplies, generators, and much more at no cost to those who need them.”
The United Cajun Navy has already begun operations in parts of Louisiana as Ida moves northward. Along with first responders, other organizations, neighbors and family members, it will be helping those impacted by the storm.