Charlotte resident says volunteering with Cajun Navy during Florence was life-changing

Charlotte resident says volunteering with Cajun Navy during Florence was life-changing
Flooding in Wallace, NC (Source: WBTV-Lauren Tostenson)

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte resident Steven Walters watched Hurricane Florence roll in on the news Friday, and felt compelled to pitch in.

Steven Walters and Kyle Javurek
Steven Walters and Kyle Javurek (Source: WBTV-Lauren Tostenson)

So, he loaded up his kayaks and connected with his friend, Kyle Javurek, who was already on his way to volunteer in New Bern. The pair was waiting out some rain in New Bern, when they saw a call from the Cajun Navy on Facebook. The group was asking for help in Wilmington so Walters and Javurek got back on the road, but didn’t make it far before flooding caught up with them.

“We managed to leave that morning in route to Wilmington. We realized shortly after the roads were non-traversable. No way in, no way out,” Walters said.

Still determined to help, Walters went where the waters would allow, and ended up in a little town called Wallace. That’s where the guys finally met up with some members of the Cajun Navy and the local volunteer fire department. The patchwork group of volunteers worked together to map out their rescue missions, using whatever watercraft they had available.

“One person had a jet ski, another person had an aluminum jon boat, other people had white water zodiac.” Walters says together, they were able to rescue residents from 12 houses in the community near the Cape Fear River. Each rescue a rewarding experience for Walters and his “teammates” but Walters says one man, he called Mr. Del Mar, was the most memorable. “I shook his hand and told him I’d never forget him, and he told me the same thing. He said ‘I’m thankful for you guys. I’m glad you came.’”

Walters got emotional as he recalled the interaction on Wednesday. “That was better than anything you could ever imagine.” That’s the feeling, Walters says, that will keep bringing him back to the coast to lend a hand, until all this is over. He already has plans to drive back east Friday after work and reunite with his fellow volunteers.

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