Cajun Navy helping search-and-rescue amid Hurricane Ian

Hurricane Ian

(NewsNation) — Search, rescue and cleanup efforts have started on Thursday after Hurricane Ian hit southwest Florida Wednesday afternoon, before weakening to a tropical storm.

One nonprofit volunteer group, The Cajun Navy, said they had already performed about 30 search-and-rescue missions Wednesday morning, and had more than 300 rescue requests pending.

Founder and director Rob Gaudet said Cajun Navy has a team working remotely to vet rescue requests and make sure teams on the ground are dispatched to the right place.

His team is currently working with one of the fire departments in the region. Although it’s been hard to communicate because of the storm, Cajun Navy was able to get a few phone calls in to them for updates.

“My objective is to go out there, support them, and also to find a place for our longer-term setup,” Gaudet said.

Right now, Cajun Navy is in contact with the Walmart Foundation to see if they can use a damaged store’s parking lot as a supply distribution center.

“I’m hauling our equipment down,” Gaudet said. “We actually have six more trailers coming.”

Before his interview with NewsNation, Gaudet was in Tampa, putting gas in his vehicle. He warned people who might want to come to the area not to.

“If you come down here, you’re not going to find fuel because it was all taken out during the evacuation,” he said. “If you come in here and you take the fuel from first responders that are headed further south, that’s not a good thing. Please do not come to this area. Wherever you are, if you’re safe, stay there.”

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