Lawmaker wants Cajun Navy to train, pay fee before saving others
I no longer seem to recognize my own country.
~Jason Van Tatenhove
NEW ORLEANS — The Good Samaritans who rescued hundreds, maybe thousands of people during the “Great Flood of 2016” say they’re not happy after a state lawmaker announced that he wants government to regulate future actions by citizen heroes.
A loosely organized group called the “Cajun Navy,” took it upon themselves to save strangers, hundreds upon hundreds of them, by boat even when their own property was flooding.
“For the most part, these people are not going to wait for assistance. They’re doers,” said Cajun Navy member Dustin Clouatre of St. Amant.
He got in his pleasure skiff and with others, cleared out entire neighborhoods that were under water after historic rains triggered major flooding.
“At one time in my boat, I had a guy I dropped off at a Buddhist temple. I had a black guy, and I had a Mexican guy. And when we dropped them all off, everybody hugged, high-fived, loved on each other and sent them on their way,” remembers Clouatre.
He and members of the Cajun Navy say they’re against talk of government regulation.
Republican state Sen. Jonathan Perry of the Vermillion-Lafayette area, announced he is working on legislation that could require training, certificates and a permit fee to allow these volunteers to get past law enforcement into devastated areas. He said some were turned away.
“At the end of the day, there are going to be two things that are going to be the hurdle when you approach it from the state’s standpoint,” Perry said in a local radio interview. “Liability is going to be number one for them. They don’t want the liability of someone going out to rescue someone and then not being able to find them (the rescuers) and, secondly, there’s a cost.”
Members of the Cajun Navy don’t understand the call for regulations.
“How can you regulate people helping people? That doesn’t make sense to me,” said Clouatre
Political blog The Hayride also is speaking out against any regulation.
“And we’ll never know how many people got rescued, right? Because there were no bureaucrats with clipboards marking down how many. They just went and did it,” said publisher Scott McKay. “The fact that John Perry is a Republican, right? It’s like, ‘Hey, you ran on small government. Now you want to regulate the Cajun Navy.’ What are you doing?'”
Perry did not return phone calls for a comment.