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Hurricane Ida

Hurricane Ida

Hurricane Ida

On August 29, 2021, the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina making landfall, Hurricane Ida whipped into Louisiana. It was a deadly and extremely destructive Category 4 hurricane that became the second-most damaging and intense hurricane to make landfall in Louisiana, behind Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Ida was the fourth-costliest Atlantic hurricane in the United States, causing at least $75.25 billion in damages. A total of 107 deaths were attributed to Ida, 87 in the United States and 30 in Louisiana.

Cajun Navy Ground Force began making preparations four days before landfall, having our first volunteer meeting in Lafayette, Louisiana less than 2 days before Ida hit. Leaving in the wee hours of the morning, CEO & Founder Rob Gaudet and a small advance team left Lafayette to make their way to Houma, Louisiana, arriving within 12 hours of Ida’s passing. Even as winds still rolled through the damaged city, we could immediately see the tremendous need.

Members of our advance team joined local medics and led a small crew to offer rescue and support services and to clear a route into Houma. They evaluated the roads for safety and gave us the all clear to move in with volunteers and equipment and begin setting up SAFE Camp. Over the next four months, 10,000 cars were served, 240,000 pounds of food and products were distributed, 70,000 hot meals were plated and served, and 12,600 cases of water were given to those affected by Hurricane Ida.

The mission of SAFE Camp is to provide a safe place with easy and fast access to supplemental services such as food, water, gas and supplies for those who remained as well as those who would soon return over the next few days and weeks following the storm. We usually find the nearest Walmart and set up in their parking lot. Because this region has several dozen large cities and small communities, many close to the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico, some were completely cut off from easy support and not able to reach SAFE Camp. We partnered with Operation Airdrop and Operation BBQ Relief to hotshot meals, donations, and supplies into communities unable to reach us.

Part of our mission statement is to stabilize aging and other vulnerable citizens living in natural disaster impact zones. This mission was front and center as we drove further from the city of Houma and into one community in particular, Pointe- aux-Chênes, home to one of the three state-recognized Houma tribes. Of the 120 indigenous families’ homes that stood for generations before Ida, only 14 remained.

But for those living down the bayou, Hurricane Ida took much more than their homes; it took their means of income. They live off the land and the water by hunting alligators, fishing, and by catching shrimp, crabs and oysters. Their boats were damaged or destroyed, their tools and supplies missing and the bayous were filled with debris, making some waterways almost impassable.

One citizen determined not to let these circumstances stop him was Mr. Freddie, a fisherman who had lived his 70+ years in Pointe-aux- Chênes. His was one of the homes miraculously still standing. On our way to a meeting with local officials, we saw Mr. Freddie dragging a heavy, damp mattress across his damaged porch elevated over 15 feet in the air. He’d been sleeping on the mattress for two months since the storm hit and was attempting to drag the mattress to the sun to dry. We immediately stopped and helped, eventually replacing his old mattress with one donated by our generous followers. We returned many times to help Mr. Freddie and his neighbors with their homes and boats and to provide essential supplies and hot food.
Our mission continued through the holidays. We hosted a successful “Trunksgiving” event where we passed out meal boxes that contained all the ingredients needed to make a tasty Thanksgiving meal at home. We also had hot meals with smoked meats and sides and a seating area where families could choose to enjoy their meals with us. Close to 500 cars were served that day. For Christmas, we organized a Cajun Santa Tree where for two days we handed out over 700 wrapped gifts to children affected by Hurricane Ida. Our hearts were incredibly full as we were able to provide a bright spot of normalcy in such uncertain times.
We remained in the Houma area for over four months.



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