Captain’s Corner – Cajun Navy

U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Jonathan Tarroe from the Sector Lower Mississippi’s Flood Response team coordinates with members of the St. Amani, Louisiana Fire Department, and other local officials helping evacuate area citizens, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Aug. 16, 2016.  Coast Guard response teams are assisting local, state and federal agencies with the flood response throughout affected areas. (U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class LaNola Stone)

U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Jonathan Tarroe from the Sector Lower Mississippi’s Flood Response team coordinates with members of the St. Amani, Louisiana Fire Department, and other local officials helping evacuate area citizens, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Aug. 16, 2016. Coast Guard response teams are assisting local, state and federal agencies with the flood response throughout affected areas. (U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class LaNola Stone)

There is so much negative news and tension broadcasted on the nightly news that it did my heart and mind good recently to hear about people doing right by others, specifically with regards to the response to flooding in Louisiana.

2015-11-05  GT High Res Port of Galveston - Efficient Part of Your Supply Chain - Updated
One of my more memorable tours in the Coast Guard was the three years I spent stationed in New Iberia, Louisiana. I remember departing the ship in San Francisco and driving almost straight through (you can do that when you are 24), arriving around noon the next day. Even though I did not know a soul, I was greeted by such hospitability that it shocked my Yankee system. Within hours I was invited to a crawfish boil, and by that night, you’d have thought that I was cousins with the host. This was a foreign feeling for a Yankee, because you see in New York our friendships are pretty much set in kindergarten—for life, then the skill set to make friends vanishes.

I bring this up because in the news coverage of the flooding in our neighboring state, I see the same warmth in the faces of the people responding that I saw many years ago. True to form, the residents of these hard-hit parishes joined together to help their neighbors in need by standing up the Cajun Navy.

The Cajun Navy is a unique group of volunteers, although the word “group” implies too much formality to their organization. There are no membership fees, there are no monthly meetings, and there are no applications to join the ranks. There is nothing special about the people who joined the Cajun Navy except that they were willing to join - ordinary individuals who happened to be in the position to help out and made the decision to do so. Small flat-bottom fishing boats made for swampy bayous proved invaluable on roads covered in several feet of water. Even as their own houses were flooding, members of the Cajun Navy loaded up their personal boats to rescue people and pets from the rising waters. Once the floods receded, the Cajun Army stepped up: volunteering to remove debris from damaged houses and deliver food and water to those who have lost almost every worldly possession. And of course, there are numerous reports of large pots of gumbo refueling exhausted volunteers and victims.

This is soul of the South, and despite the tragic circumstances, I am thankful that the rest of the world has a chance to see and appreciate the common heroism of these people. In Texas, I see the same community spirit and unselfishness to help when catastrophe strikes. I certainly hope we don’t need our Bayou City Navy, but I know that it will materialize if necessary.

At the Port Bureau, we try to keep this same positivity and cooperation moving our port region forward when lives are not in danger. Can-do attitudes and willingness to unite as a community are bringing about real progress through our industry committees on dredging and traffic efficiency. Celebration of hard work and giving back brought over 700 attendees out for our Annual Maritime Dinner to honor the life work and philanthropy of Pat Studdert, President and CEO of Buffalo Marine Service, Inc. I’m proud to be working alongside so many of our Port Bureau members who are dedicated to making this port region a safer and more competitive place to do business. Thank you for making the port region a great place to work – and a great place to live.

bill

  • Date September 13, 2016
  • Tags September 2016