Volunteer rescue groups prepare equipment in case of flooding, extreme wind event

HOUSTON – The threat of two tropical systems in the Gulf of Mexico has area volunteer rescue groups watching the forecast and preparing equipment to be ready in the event of flooding. 

“We have a team of volunteers that help us with weather and keep us really on the forefront of what’s happening,” said Rob Gaudet, the founder and director of the Cajun Navy Foundation

The organization, which was founded in 2016 after flooding in Louisiana, connects communities during disaster conditions through technology. Its efforts included thousands of rescues during Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Its focus includes on-ground rescues, as well as, online resources to help communities better improve ways to use social media during a disaster. 

Gaudet said that came in handy when the pandemic began. 

“With COVID-19, we reached close to a million people a month. So with the switch to the hurricane pandemic, if you will, we’re getting a lot of feedback now on our refocus on onto what’s happening in the Gulf of Mexico right now,” Gaudet said, adding his team of volunteers includes a meteorologist. 

Gaudet said the weekend will be important for determining how and where to mobilize. Doing so won’t be hard, though, because all members need is a cell phone to connect. 

From there the directive is to listen to what’s needed. A wind event, for instance, wouldn’t call for high water rescue vehicles, according to Matthew Marchetti, the co-founder of CrowdSource Rescue

Sometimes a storm calls for volunteers with chainsaws to cut fallen trees. 

“You play the fundamentals and you play the basics,” Marchetti said, using the football reference to speak to the importance of going with what a group has been trained to do.

Search and rescue volunteers for CrowdSource Rescue helped over 25,000 people during Hurricane Harvey. Since the pandemic, Marchetti said volunteers have delivered close to 600,000 meals

Volunteers prepared boats and trucks Friday in the event of flooding. Marchetti said he and his team continue to watch the forecast, adding they’re ready to help. 

“We have the training. We have plenty of PPE. As far as CSR goes, we have plenty of communications with the emergency management officials and first responders in the various areas,” Marchetti said. 

Marchetti said the group is looking for more volunteers. Visit the CrowdSource Rescue to learn more.

About the Author:

Emmy and Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. NOLA born and bred, though #HoustonStrong, with stops in Minnesota, New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut in along the way.