In the aftermath of Harvey there was a long caravan of pickup trucks pulling boats on trailers towards the massive flooding in Houston. They call themselves the Cajun Navy and for those of us from Louisiana there’s really no need to ponder how they came about. They were needed and so they came. With a general distrust of the government, the people in Louisiana are wired a little like your mom. She knows that if she wants something done right, she’s got to do it herself.
There’s a unique set of rules, common practices and even accents for the people of every parish, but our culture demands that we come together in times of crisis to aid our neighbors. Navigating the red tape of the Federal Government is a far less appealing option than the sort of “duct tape” approach we’re comfortable with. Everyone’s got a pickup truck or a boat, a big jambalaya cooker or a brother-in-law that’s a contractor. Everyone has something to contribute.
I don’t know if the Federal Government has a great reputation for efficiency anywhere, but they’ve done little to dispel the widely held belief down south that they’re about as helpful as a push-up bra under a burka. We can’t trust our state government either since we only seem capable of electing crooks, incompetents, liars and the occasional Jesus-loving family man with an affinity for working girls. It can be difficult to trust an entity that is so fraught with that kind of corruption. I get it.
Politics and cultural differences don’t matter when American lives are on the line. I’ve been in Houston for most of the last ten years, but I was born and raised in Baton Rouge, and it hasn’t surprised me at all to see my communities step up in a way that is admirable and inspiring.
I’ve seen a lot of praise in the national news coverage for the Cajun Navy’s heroic efforts, but it can be difficult for those outside of the region to put their faith in a bunch of regular guys in bass boats. There are those that have asked why such a volunteer group is even necessary, given the size and power of our Federal Government. I would encourage those people to set aside such questions for now and focus on the incredible accomplishments of these volunteer forces. Let us be grateful for their help and save the political bickering for a more appropriate time.
On a lighter note, a little advice for those of you that have never met a Cajun person in real life before: Do not refuse their offerings of food. Take the jambalaya, even if you are not hungry! Eat the delicious food, compliment the cook and say thank you! Anything else is just a slap in the face.