BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Baton Rouge Police Department, Behind the Line, and Back the Blue collected truckloads of donations for Texas during Hurricane Harvey and now, the leftovers are going to help others.
The donations are being handed off to the United Cajun Navy for people in the path of Hurricane Florence. Some members of the Cajun Navy left Wednesday morning for the Carolinas.
“Pretty amazing because to have an opportunity to help somebody else, that’s pretty priceless,” said Rendy Richard with Behind the Line.
Richard says after Hurricane Harvey, they, along with Back the Blue and BRPD, held a drive to collect donations for Texas, but there were plenty of leftovers. “When we got our truck, we couldn’t fill it all, so we kept it in storage for this reason. We knew there would be a call for help and now, here we are and we’re able to pass it on,” she said. And that’s exactly what they’re doing via members of the Cajun Navy.
“I personally flooded here in 2016 in Louisiana in Baton Rouge, so I mean, I was homeless for four months and my parents flooded. This is my way of giving back,” said another volunteer. Like her, Jared Bourgeois is also giving back. For now, he’s driving the donations to where they’ll be loaded. He was rescued off his rooftop by an air boat driven by Todd Terrell during Hurricane Katrina after 12 feet of water inundated his home. Terrell is now one of the leaders of the Cajun Navy. As soon as Bourgeois turned 17, he joined the Cajun Navy.
“It feels like the right thing to do... a lot of the emotions come with it just because seeing all the people lose everything, you already know what they’re going through,” Bourgeois said.
At their staging point on O’Neal Lane, boxes were unloaded Wednesday morning. Several Walmart shoppers stopped in just to donate to the Cajun Navy. “They just do good things. They help people,” said Helen Rushing.
“Paying for gas, paying for food, paying for their help,” said John Tillman.
“You know it’s not just about black, white, old, young, rich, poor, we family and when family need each other, we come out and we give our very best for each other,” said Connie King, who served 30 years in the United States Navy and appreciates her home state serving the country.
And who better to guide the Cajun Navy than retired Army Lt. General Russel Honore? “You’re still going to pick up some wind there. You need to find you a hotel parking garage is what you should do,” he said.
Because Hurricane Florence has shifted paths slightly, the crew will no longer be bound for South Carolina. They’re now headed towards the Florida/Georgia line to be on standby to do what Louisianians do best.
“To see the people’s lives that we saved, it’s a feeling that I can’t just explain. It gives me the drive that I constantly do,” said Cajun Navy board member Scott Burchardt.