Cajun Navy: Putting people and faith first during Florence rescues


    LUMBERTON, SC (WMBF) – The people of Lumberton are the latest to be helped by a group recognized presidentially as heroes for their life-saving efforts, the Cajun Navy.

    This group of volunteers runs to natural disasters to save lives, first in 2016’s Great Louisiana Flood, then Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, the 2018 Hidalgo County flood, Tropical Storm Gordon, and now Hurricane Florence.

    Cajun Navy founder Jon Bridgers’ is known for leading the round-up of trucks and boats into Houston that landed him an invitation to the White House.

    “I went to sleep early that night and whenever I woke up that following morning that one post had been shared like 7,500 times,” Bridges said of the post that went viral of him heading to the disaster zone with dozens of other Cajun Navy volunteers. “Yeah, the Cajun Navy 2016 that’s us.”

    Now the volunteers who have become a household name are at it again, helping the people of the Carolinas who are stranded due to flooding.

    “We’re going to meet up and convoy to wherever we’re headed to and that gets out and people start showing up with donations along with other boaters,” John Able, a volunteer with the Cajun Navy.

    They’re staging boats in anticipation for the dam’s possible break.

    “Basically we’re inspiring people. Every day joes, just get out there, make a difference,” Bridgers said.

    A group made up of everyone, from a pastor to a military man, is at Raft Swamp Volunteer Fire Department after they left Wilmington and arrived in Lumberton Friday.

    “We actually came this way because the need was greater here than over there,” Bridgers said.

    With boats, coolers, life jackets and gallons upon gallons of gas, Bridgers says they’ve made some rescues in Lumberton but have really helped those who came back get their belongings.

    “On the right-hand side, there was a little table that sat up about that high. And the water was about no more than half an inch from topping the top of it, and long and behold there was a bible on top of it that was high and dry. And folks, that’s no coincidence,” Bridgers said.

    Putting faith first, the team plans to stay in Lumberton making their next move based on the dam and where they’re needed most.

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