The Cajun Navy Responds to Hurricane Ida

How you can help the volunteer rescue organization, and other on-the-ground relief efforts in Louisiana

Photo: Matt Williamson/Enterprise-Journal via AP

Floodwaters at a campground in Magnolia, Mississippi, in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

“I’m sitting here looking out at a lot of the damage, and it’s what you would expect from a Category 4 hurricane: It’s bad,” says Colleen Udell, the president of Cajun Navy Relief. The organization, composed of civilian volunteers who use their personal boats and equipment for rescue during disasters, is one of several groups that have taken on the name “Cajun Navy” since Hurricane Katrina. Now, sixteen years later, they are on the ground (and on the water) responding to those affected by Hurricane Ida.

“We have teams in LaPlace, in Slidell, in Baton Rouge, in Denham Springs, and in Des Allemands looking to do rescues,” Udell reports. “So far, we have had over 1,100 evacuation requests come in through social media channels, through our website, or over the phone, and we started responding in the middle of the night last night.” Udell says that, currently, communication is extremely difficult; AT&T and T-Mobile are experiencing outages and Verizon can be hit or miss. “It’s hard to say anything for sure right now, but we’ve got at least a hundred volunteers out there and three thousand more that we can tap into at any time.”

Over the coming days, Cajun Navy Relief will continue to respond to evacuation requests—even with the spotty communication, dispatchers have already reported rescuing people trapped inside their homes or on their roofs, but nobody knows exact numbers yet. And, Udell adds, since many of the rescuers are locals, “Our own volunteers don’t even know if their homes are still standing at this point.”

Cajun Navy Relief is currently accepting monetary donations here, and you can sign up to be a volunteer on their website. Below is a list of other relief organizations in need of donations, supplies, or volunteers. 

Imagine Water Works

Imagine Water Works’s Mutual Aid Response Network activates during storms, floods, and other disasters and is led by native Louisianans. All donations go directly to relief and recovery efforts as well as preparation measures for the rest of hurricane season. 

Bayou Fund

The New Orleans chef Melissa Martin, who grew up in the hard-hit fishing community of Chauvin, set up this fund to meet the immediate needs—ice, gas, tarps, and food—of devastated fishing communities in Terrebonne Parish. The fund is administered through the local Helio Foundation and will also aid residents as they apply for FEMA aid to rebuild.


SBP, formerly known as St. Bernard Project, was created to help rebuild St. Bernard Parish in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. They are on the ground now to muck, gut, and rebuild homes destroyed by Ida. Donate here

Another Gulf Is Possible  

This female-led collaborative is accepting monetary donations here. They will focus on distributing supplies and providing support to minority communities affected by Ida. 

Feed the Second Line

This nonprofit run by the Krewe of Red Beans buys groceries for New Orleanians in need and pays wages to musicians, artists, and other culture bearers in the community. Donate to their relief efforts here

New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic 

This nonprofit provides medical care and social services to New Orleans musicians, artists, cultural workers, and others. Donate to their team’s efforts in the wake of the storm here

All Hands and Hearts 

All Hands and Hearts sends volunteers to clean up and rebuild after hurricanes and will be deploying teams to Louisiana in the coming days. Donate or sign up to volunteer here. 

Project HOPE

This international relief organization has deployed medical teams to Louisiana, and is providing and hygiene supplies for families who are being moved to shelters. Donate here.

World Central Kitchen 

José Andrés’s World Central Kitchen is activating its three kitchens in New Orleans to provide more than 100,000 meals to those without power in the area. Donate here.  

Louisiana SPCA

The Louisiana SPCA is rescuing animals in the area affected by the storm. Donate here

Humane Society of Louisiana 

The Humane Society of Louisiana is also rescuing animals throughout the state. Donate to relief efforts here.  


Americares has partnered with the company MathWorks to match donations to Hurricane Ida victims up to $500,000. Donate here

The Red Cross

Support the Louisiana region of the Red Cross’s relief efforts here

Mercy Chefs

The Virginia-based organization has deployed its mobile kitchens to Louisiana to provide meals to those in need. Donate to their efforts here

Impact Your World 

CNN’s Impact Your World fund donates to six on-the-ground organizations including Airlink, Americares, Direct Relief, and Save the Children. Donate to the fund here

Various church- and community-based groups are organizing to accept supplies and provide volunteers, including United Way of Southwest Louisiana,​ and Catholic Charities of Acadiana.