Two of the men responsible for many of the Hurricane Isaac rescue efforts in Plaquemines Parish thus far are Jesse Shaffer, 25 of Braithwaite, his father, Jesse Schaffer Sr., 53. The younger Shaffer says he has a Woodlawn firefighter aboard his boat and that his father also has someone helping him.
“We’ve rescued at least 23 people including children,” said the younger Shaffer said. He was reached by a Times-Picayune reporter on his cell phone this morning while he was still aboard his boat conducting rescues.
Shaffer says he runs Teame Braithwaite Outdoors. A picture on his Facebook page shows a boat with the words “Hog Wild” printed along its side.
Plaquemine Parish President Billy Nungesser confirmed that the Shaffers are the people rescuing east bank residents. Nungesser says that the rescues have included a woman and her 5-month-old baby from a roof.
“He lives here, he knows the area,” Nungesser said, explaining that as darkness still coats the area it would be difficult for other rescue personnel who are not already in the area and who would have to navigate a relatively unknown landscape with only about 10 feet of light ahead of them.
I remember when I was down in Louisiana seven years ago for Hurricane Rita, which hit two or three weeks after Katrina, watching TV at my folks’ house and hearing reports about how Cajuns in the rural southwest coastal parishes (where Rita came ashore) were out in their boats rescuing people as soon as the storm passed. They weren’t helpless, and they didn’t wait for permission from the state; they just went, and they did what they needed to do for their communities.
I must say, though, that the news from Plaquemines Parish ticks me off at the people who stayed behind. Billy Nungesser was quoted this morning saying that for his parish, it’s worse than Katrina — and “the worst-case scenario, this is even worse.” A mandatory evacuation order had gone out before the storm hit, but a number of people chose not to heed it. And now rescue personnel have to put their lives on the line to get these idiots out.