As residents across East Baton Rouge, La., became stranded inside flooded homes on Sunday, Chris Macaluso’s boat was part of the fleet that came to their rescue.
Macaluso helped save about 20 people in his neighborhood.
He joined several others across Louisiana doing the same thing — half-jokingly called the “Cajun Navy” by some on social media — to help local first responders rescue stranded residents.
"I had access to a boat I could use but, man, they got a lot of [people] in duck-hunting boats riding around these neighborhoods who have no idea where they're going, but they're just here to help," Macaluso told The Times-Picayune. "This is not easy work."
Of the people Macaluso has helped recover from his Afton Oaks neighborhood, many were elderly and some had special medical needs, such as oxygen tanks or wheelchairs. In the time it took Macaluso to maneuver his boat back and forth to one house, the water had risen another foot.
"There have been several situations where the current has been so strong coming down some of these streets that it's dangerous to try to get a boat down them," he said. "[The volunteers] are risking a lot to help these people, and I know people in this part of Baton Rouge and all over really appreciate it."
Macaluso and the other volunteers in the neighborhood picked up stranded neighbors and zipped them over the first strip of dry land they could find. There they would wait for a ride to a shelter or other location.