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Local Heroes Create 'Cajun Navy' to Find and Rescue Louisiana Flood Victims: 'These People Need Us'

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Max Becherer/AP

A group of Louisiana natives, some of them flood victims themselves, have banded together to form the “Cajun Navy” – an armada of volunteers who set sail every morning to rescue neighbors, friends, strangers and pets trapped by the historic Louisiana floodwaters.

“We’re just out here trying to help,” Warren Holmes of Ascension Parish told the Times Picayune. Holmes and his wife Shannon had spent the weekend rescuing people and pets from 7-foot deep water. “What are we supposed to do: Let them die?”

Another volunteer, Kyle Page, lost his home in Denham Springs over the weekend. Since then, he’s put aside his own suffering to help those in need.

“I’ve got to do something,” he told the newspaper, “though I would like to see if I have anything left.”

Each day, these brave volunteers navigate through streets floating on a mixture of floodwater, gasoline and sewage trying to help any person or animal they can find.

“Nothing prepares you for this, but you’ve got to do something,” Shannon Holmes said. “These people need us.”

On Sunday, three men in a boat saved a woman and her dog from her car that was sinking in to the floodwaters.

Over 30 inches of rain fell in southern Louisiana over the past week; Watson, Louisiana, was hit the worst, with 31.4 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

At least 11 people have died in the flooding, Louisiana officials confirmed Tuesday. Gov. John Bel Edwards said that 30,000 people had already been rescued but the state did not know how many more people were missing.

“We are still very much in an emergency, search-and-rescue response mode for much of the Florida parishes,” Mr. Edwards said, according to the New York Times. “Saving life is the most important priority that we have. We’re going to dedicate every available response to that effort until it’s no longer required.”

After the news broke that more than 40,000 homes had been damaged hundreds came forward to volunteer their time – and boats – to bring those who may still be trapped in flooded homes to safety.

“It’s a good situation when you you’re able to be there. A lot of times tragedies unfold in front of you, and you can’t do anything,” Joe Spinato, who was part of a team that saved more than 600 people stranded in their homes, told the Times-Picayune. “I’m just happy I was able to do something.”