The storm once again tested the resiliency of the people of Louisiana and once again the people of our state passed with flying colors.
A group of heroes in boats, the Cajun Navy, on their own initiative jumped into action to save residents trapped by the flooding. Without this incredible volunteer initiative, the death toll would have been many times higher than 13.
These volunteers risked their lives to save strangers in need. Many of the Cajun Navy volunteers were former Hurricane Katrina victims who were giving back to fellow residents impacted by another horrible storm.
This example of kindness, bravery and concern for fellow Louisianans is not something that can be mandated by government or any bureaucracy. It is part of the make-up of Louisiana citizens, a determination to take action even during times of crisis.
In this catastrophe, over 30,000 citizens were rescued by members of local law enforcement and the Cajun Navy. This type of heroism should be commended and applauded. Unfortunately, some politicians like State Senator Jonathan Perry (R-Baton Rouge) want to force these volunteers to undergo training and certification to rescue fellow citizens in need. To make matters worse, he would also require a permit free for these volunteer rescuers to take action in a crisis.
Perry said that the requirements are necessary to allow these rescuers to avoid being stopped by law enforcement and go into areas of the state that have been devastated by a storm. He said that such requirements would eliminate any “liability” for rescuers to perform their life saving mission.
Despite his intentions to help the Cajun Navy proposing such government involvement is preposterous. As in almost every other case, the less government, the better. Whenever there are regulations, licensing, bureaucracy and red tape it just serves to inhibit people from getting involved.
In this disaster, it was essential that the Cajun Navy was unregulated and allowed to take action on their own. One Cajun Navy rescuer, Dustin Clouatre of St. Amant, expressed his opposition to Perry’s proposal, remarking “How can you regulate people helping people? That doesn't make sense to me."
Of course, Clouatre is right, it does not make sense and politicians like Perry need to stand down and not ruin what was a tremendous outpouring of volunteer assistance. As noted by Livingston Parish President Layton Ricks, “as it turned out, we couldn't have done it without those guys. They were a tremendous asset for our people.”
The only thing that politicians like Perry should do is pass a legislative resolution congratulating the Cajun Navy for saving lives and give them the encouragement and support to do it again the next time a natural disaster hits Louisiana.