The people of Louisiana have heard about them, now the rest of the world will get to know them.
A documentary about the Cajun Navy is airing right now on The Discovery Channel.
It is shining a spotlight on the men and women who volunteer during natural disasters.
“The Cajun Navy” is a Discovery Channel special that shares the stories of the volunteers who make up the Louisiana-based organization and their experiences during Hurricanes Katrina, Harvey and other natural disasters.
Douglas Bienvenu, the Original Founder of The Cajun Navy, felt called to help people during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
“Horrible. These people have no other way out and there’s lives to save and the only way to get to them is by boat and I can’t see myself sitting at home in air condition while people are dying,” said Bienvenu, back in 2005, when KLFY interviewed him in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
“I’m going to go in there because it’s going to be overwhelming for the responders to help anyone so I figured they needed help,” said Bienvenu today, as he remembered the events.
Bienvenu recalls wanting to help people as he was watched Katrina unfold in New Orleans.
“Finally, I told my fiancé, Drue, I said, ‘you know what, I’m not going to talk about it,” added Bienvenu. “I’m going do something about it’ so I was prepared. I loaded up my boat, and I took off to New Orleans, not knowing if they were going to let me in or not so I was prepared to break in is what I kind of did.”
As Bienvenu arrived in New Orleans, the water was rising and he knew he needed to act quickly.
He drove his airboat to help the nearest people he could find.
“I started off on Airline Highway by Ochsner Hospital, and I mean I didn’t go 100 feet, and I just turned off my motor to listen and I heard ‘help,’ and I looked, and there was an old lady sitting on the porch,” added Bienvenu.
Bienvenu helped rescue about 2,700 people after Katrina hit.
“We started noticing other boats as the word got out and we called ourselves ‘The Cajun Navy,’” said Bienvenu.
A group of volunteers that saved lives and became an inspiration for many from then until now.
“First responders are overwhelmed,” explained Bienvenu. “They can’t get to everybody so the few that we do save, it makes a huge difference.”
Bienvenu is retired. He sold his airboat in 2016, but will continue to remember Hurricane Katrina and the many lives he saved.
Bienvenu says a movie about hurricanes is in the works to include information from Bienvenu’s book called “An Airboat on the Streets of New Orleans.” He says the movie is in the workings between a local attorney, Trent Angers, the writer of Bienvenu’s book, and Acadiana Profile Magazine.