NEW ORLEANS - A year ago, the country had never heard of the Cajun Navy. Now they have their own app and strong following on social media.
They are regular guys with pickups and boats who say they don't wait for help. They are the help.
Now, after Hurricane Harvey they are getting recognition for the role they are playing.
Overwhelmed and inundated Texas officials are pleading for the Cajun Navy. Along with the desperate and stranded on Facebook.
"They come for us, we'll come for them. We'll help them out as much as we can," said Cajun Navy member Joshua Mtanyos, who is volunteering his time rescuing people in Texas.
They first gained attention last summer. Late one night in the Louisiana rain and river floods, cameraman Steve Wolfram and Eyewitness Reporter Meg Farris stumbled across good Samaritans and their boats. Back then, officials worried about their safety and warned them to go home. They defied orders to stay away from rising water. That gave rise to a loosely organized group called the Cajun Navy, launching their fishing boats from newly made shorelines on asphalt highways.
Now through social media, the world is getting to know the resourcefulness of our Louisiana heroes.
Washington Post Columnist Sally Jenkins writes, "...sport fishermen and duck hunters outnumbering the government rescuers by the hundreds." She points out that you want these guys to come rescue you. They know how to maneuver through Houston's submerged dangers because they do it over tree stumps in the swamps.
Our partners at The New Orleans Advocate are riding with some of the members of this army of volunteers. They are finding their quotes in The New York Times, and their voices on network TV newscasts such as CNN and CBS.
However, their true reward is not notoriety. It's the 73-year-old woman seen floating lifelessly in the water who they brought back to life with CPR. It's the gratefulness of people who have pets who aren't told to leave them behind and the gratefulness of those getting the water and food and cell phone chargers they are transporting. The guys here say in Louisiana we know flooding, so they got this and they are paying it back for all the times Texas came to our aid.
"We're here for a purpose and by the grace of God we're going to do what we can," said Mtanyos.
The Washington Post writes: The country is suddenly grateful for this "Cajun Navy."