The Cajun Navy: How Tech and Boaters Joined Forces to Save Lives

By Nancy on October 10, 2016


You might not have heard, but last August 2016, the biggest flood to hit Louisiana in 500 years happened. More than 30,000 people were evacuated and over 146,000 homes damaged. Unlike well-known Hurricane Katrina in 2005, it didn’t have a name, and the rescue and recovery efforts were better orchestrated. So it just wasn’t deemed as newsworthy.

Consequently, little was publicized about the rescue efforts of a small ragtag band of boaters known as the “Cajun Navy.” But their story deserves to be told. It’s a story about regular folks doing extraordinary things, using a little tech and a lot of determination.

The original Cajun Navy was born out of necessity during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Plagued by government red tape and delayed rescue efforts during Katrina, a small group of locals with boats got together and pitched in to do whatever they could. They became local heroes known as The Cajun Navy, as they picked up residents trapped by flood waters, put them on their boats, and transported them to safety.

The namesake group was called into action again this past August 12th, when flooding began in Livingston Parish – the hardest hit area. The amount of water rose so quickly, that it caught many residents off guard. Unable to prepare and evacuate in time, many found themselves stranded in their homes or on their rooftops.

Initial frantic calls for help came across on Facebook posts. AT&T cell towers were knocked out, making phone calls impossible. Many people in neighboring unaffected parishes saw these pleas and wanted to do something to help. They didn’t want to sit idle or wait for the government to come and rescue these people. It was at this point that a new, stronger, and more organized Cajun Navy really sprang into action.

Realizing there needed to be a central point of command to coordinate rescue efforts, stay-at-home mom and local Good Samaritan, Alaina Hebert, took it upon herself to head rescue efforts. A brand-new Facebook group for rescue efforts was created, asking for volunteers to join, especially those with boats and other equipment. The group eventually grew to over 23,000 members from all parts of the U.S. With a huge base of volunteers ready and able to help out, the Cajun Navy was now ready to take on the daunting task of coordinating water rescues.

As the flooding progressed, Parish Sheriff offices quickly became inundated with calls for help. With a backlog of over over 150 unanswered calls, Parish officials welcomed the offer of help from the Cajun Navy to handle some of the overflow. Cajun Navy volunteers immediately stepped in to help, going where needed with Sheriff Deputies onboard using their flotilla of fishing boats, canoes, and kayaks.

In the end, the Cajun Navy, with their band of 100-200 amateur and professional boaters, managed to save thousands of stranded residents and pets. The entire rescue effort was coordinated using two free apps: Zello as a live walkie-talkie dispatch and Glympse as a GPS locator. It was the first time apps had been used in this way – the technology did not exist during Hurricane Katrina.

Shawn Boudreaux, VP of the Cajun Navy and self-described “closet nerd” introduced the technology to the group. An avid player of Ingress (a location-based mobile app game), he used Zello to communicate with fellow team members during Ingress events. Shawn knew Zello could be a great tool for dispatchers to coordinate the hundreds of boats scattered throughout flooded areas. With the support of now Cajun Navy President, Alaina Hebert, he put the apps in motion by asking for volunteers on Facebook to come and install Zello and Glympse on their devices before going out on water rescues.

Shawn created a private Zello channel called “CajunNavy” for the volunteer dispatchers and boaters to communicate with each other. At the peak of the crisis, the channel had over 800 members or subscribers. All 800 could be online and active at the same time (the limit is 2000). As calls for help came in, they were transmitted live on the channel. By using Glympse and Google Maps for GPS coordinates, the closest boats could then be dispatched to help. The process resulted in more efficient and timely rescues.

A sister group named the “Cajun Army” also used Zello to coordinate post-flood efforts, providing food and shelter and dispatching volunteers to help clean-up damaged homes.


Though flood waters have since receded, the Cajun Navy and Cajun Army continues to help their neighbors rebuild their homes and lives. This is all done without monetary donations or government aid. If you would like to help out or just thank them, please join their Facebook groups and Zello channel by using the links below.

Cajun Navy Facebook Page
Cajun Army Facebook Page
Cajun Navy Zello Channel

If you have a similar story of how you used Zello to help your community, please contact us at We’d love to hear about it!

Zello presents at Russian Transport Safety Forum

By Nancy on April 29, 2016


Zello has a large following in Russia, especially within the transportation sector, which includes taxi and delivery services. Recently, Zello’s COO in Russia, Veronika Zaslavskaya, was invited to speak about transportation safety issues and how Zello could be used to avoid dangerous driver actions such as texting or handling devices while driving.

The panel also discussed the adoption of safety laws similar to the 2012 U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations for commercial truck drivers which bans texting and phone handling while driving. As each violation can cost up to $2750 for the driver and $11,000 for the employer, trucking companies are eager to adopt technologies such as Zello for Work to ensure their drivers are compliant.

By using Zello with hands-free accessories or as part of an integrated in-cab solution, drivers can easily communicate with dispatchers and other drivers while keeping their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.

The findings from the transport safety forum will be used to prepare recommendations for the Russian legislature, to be presented later this year.

Zello Works Where Traditional Radios Fail

By Nancy on April 22, 2016

Last week, we got a very nice note from a member of the San Bernadino County Sheriff’s Cave and Technical Rescue Team (, He explained how Zello was used in a recent search and rescue (SAR) mission. They were looking for possible human remains located in a mine shaft about 400 feet deep. When they lowered a person with a VHF radio down the shaft to investigate, the team on top realized they could not communicate with the person down in the shaft. The opening was too small relative to the wavelength of the radios, and their VHF radios were useless in that environment.

Since the team knew Zello worked with WiFi, and they had already established a WiFi hotspot on top, the team decided to try a little experiment. They decided to try Zello instead. They were surprised to find that it worked flawlessly! By lowering the person with a smartphone and Zello installed, he was able to maintain communication with the entire team.

“Amazingly we were able to maintain contact to about the 350 foot level. I was astonished! This is not an RF-friendly environment.”

We love hearing stories like this from our users. If you’ve had a similar experience where Zello saved the day when radios failed, drop us a line! Here are a couple pictures of that SAR mission:


Team at top of mine shaft


Going down with Zello onboard

Goodbye Zello Local

By Bill Moore on September 26, 2014

Zello Local feature first introduced this June never became popular so was pulled to simplify the app.

Many found the feature and a few started local conversations. But even with hundreds of nearby Zello users listening, the conversations seldom lived on.

Zello is anonymous and only used approximate location, yet many users worried about their security. Maybe they worried because our live voice is uniquely authentic. Of course that’s what makes Zello special.

Live public and private voice channels remain popular and we’ll keep trying new ideas to make Zello a better place to keep and make friends.

Zello is the most important app for Venezuela and Ukraine

By Bill Moore on February 24, 2014

The past week Zello has been the #1 overall app in Venezuela and Ukraine – more popular than Facebook or any other app.  Last year the same was true first in Turkey and later in Egypt.

After the largest ISP in Venezuela blocked Zello, team worked hard to update the app and restore service in under a day.

We are proud that  Zello’s social radio matters and are working hard to keep it available.

Press interviews and articles keep pouring in, examples below.

Bill Moore, CEO



Twitter, Other Apps Disrupted in Venezuela Amid Protests  Wall Street Journal, Feb 21, 2014

Austin company updating app for blocked Venezuelans  KXAN, Feb 22, 2014

The App That’s Fueling the Uprising in Venezuela  Defense One, Feb 24, 2014

Venezuela sends troops to violence-hit state  Aljazeera, Feb 22, 2014

Marketplace radio interview, NPR, Feb 24 2014

Targeted Internet blockages highlight political battles in Venezuela  US News and World Report, Feb 21, 2014

Venezuela blocks Zello app popular among protesters  Huffington Post, Feb 21, 2014

Internet a Crucial Venezuela Battleground  ABC News, Feb 21, 2014

Prostesters in Venezuela, Ukraine turn to peer-to-peer messaging app  CNNWorld,  Feb 24, 2014


CEO: Venezuela blocks key app for protesters Yahoo News, Feb 21, 2014

Four Websites That Are Down In Venezuela and More  International Business Times, Feb 21, 2014

The Tech Behind the Protests in Kiev  Popular Mechanics, Feb 24, 2014

Venezuela Doesn’t Want Its Protestors Using This ‘Walkie-Talkie’ App Made in Texas   Business Insider, Feb 24, 2014

This app is fueling the uprising in Venezuela  Quartz, Feb 24, 2014

Battle for Venezuela Being Fought Online Top Tech News, Feb 24, 2014

Protesters using peer-to-peer messaging app KSPR ABC, Feb 24, 2014

Venezuela blocks Zello app popular among protesters: CEO  Read more:  CTV News, Feb 21, 2014

Internet a crucial Venezuela battleground, Feb 22, 2014

Internet a crucial Venezuela battleground  Ocala StarBanner, Feb 21, 2014

Targeted Internet blockages highlight political battles in Venezuela Times Colonist, Feb 20, 2014

What to know right now about Venezuela  MSNBC, Feb 22, 2014

In Venezuela, The Internet Becomes A Crucial Battleground  NBC News, Feb 21, 2014

Venezuela protests: Internet a crucial battleground; President Nicolas Maduro blocks websites, removes NTN24 for showing student killing  CanIndia, Feb 23, 2014

Internet a crucial Venezuela battleground  MyFOXAustin, Feb 20, 2014

Cyberspace a battleground for future of Venezuela  eNCA, Feb 22, 2014

Venezuelans turn to social media for protest news  Yahoo7 News, Feb 22, 2014

Venezuelan turn to social media for protest news  Global Post, Feb 21, 2014

Venezuela’s media crackdown extends online  Access Blog, Feb 21, 2014

TICbeat » Social Media » Twitter and Zello say the Venezuelan censorship has reached its platforms Twitter and Zello say the Venezuelan censorship has reached its platforms  TICbeat, Feb 24, 2014

Internet a crucial Venezuela battleground  Marietta Times, Feb 22, 2014

Venezuela blocks ‘walkie-talkie’ app used by protesters The Globe and Mail, Feb 21, 2014

The Zello application blocked in Venezuela by the key operator  Gizmodo en Espanol, Feb, 21, 2014

Zello was updated to help Venezuelans (Exclusive Interview)  LaPatilla, Feb 24, 2014

Internet a crucial Venezuela battleground  Jamaica Observer, Feb 23, 2014

Internet a crucial Venezuela battleground  Barchart, Feb 21, 2014

Targeted Internet blockages highlight political battles in Venezuela  Winnipeg Free Press, Feb 21, 2014

Walkie-Talkie App Zello Blocked in Venezuela  Global Voices Advocacy, Feb 23, 2014

Venezuela Blocks Walkie-Talkie App Zello amid Protests  Softpedia, Feb 24, 2014

Battle For Venezuela Being Fought Online, Feb 24, 2014

Venezuela Blacks Out Internet, Censors Apps as Ongoing Clashes Hit Cyberspace  Latin Post, Feb 21, 2014

Venezuela cuenta lo que pasa con videos de YouTube  BBC Mundo, Feb 21, 2014

Targeted Internet blockages highlight battle for Venezuela  Newser, Feb 21, 2014

Internet a crucial Venezuela battleground  New Zealand Herald, Feb 22, 2014

Battle for Venezuela Is Being Fought as Vigorously Online as in the Streets  The Blaze, Feb 21, 2014

Battle for Venezuela being fought online, Feb 21, 2014

Venezuela blocks Zello app popular among protesters  TMCnet, Feb 21, 2014

Venezuela Doesn’t Want Its Protestors Using This ‘Walkie-Talkie’ App Made In Texas  Veooz, Feb 24, 2014

Targeted Internet blockages highlight political battles in Venezuela  Leader Post, Feb 24, 2014

CEO: Venezuela blocks key app for protesters  Journal Review, Feb 21, 2014

CEO: Venezuela Blocks Key App for Protesters  Naharnet, Feb 21, 2014

CEO: Venezuela blocks key app for protesters  Bismarck Tribune, Feb 20, 2014

CEO: Venezuela blocks key app for protesters  The, Feb 21, 2014

Zello app is fueling the uprising in Venezuela, Feb 24, 2014

Internet a crucial Venezuela battleground  The News, Feb 22, 2014

CEO: Venezuela blocks key app for protesters  Lompac Record, Feb 20, 2014

CEO: Venezuela blocks key app for protesters  Beloit Daily News, Feb 20, 2014

CEO: Venezuela blocks key app for protesters  St Louis Post Dispatch, Feb 20, 2014

Wisconsin Times on Zello

By Bill Moore on May 2, 2012

Established communities like readers of The Wisconsin Times use  Zello as the place to come alive with voice.  To join in, search channels for wisconsin

Public channels in Loudtalks Lite

By Alexey Gavrilov on April 19, 2010

The most recent update of Loudtalks Lite introduces new important feature — public talk channels. Public channels are open conversations between Loudtalks users, where as many as 100 people can participate at once. The concept is somewhat similar to Skypecasts, which were offered by Skype until discontinued in 2008.

Public channels are useful to:

  1. Meet the new people from around the world
  2. Discuss a topic with like minded strangers
  3. Share and receive updates on important time-sensitive information (traffic situation in your area, stocks market etc)
  4. Broadcast your status updates to interested followers (yes, like twitter)
  5. Learn a new language

Connecting to existing channels

1. Use menu Tools > Add a channel…

2. Enter channel name or the keywords (you can try ‘lobby’ or ‘support’) and press Next

3. It’ll show the list of the channels found. Click on the desired channel name to select it and click Next

4. After confirmation screen the channel will appear in your contacts.

5. To talk to the channel, select it in the contacts and use PTT key as usual. Please note that some channels may be “read-only”.

6. Use right-click on the channel name to Connect or Disconnect the channel or setup Auto-connect, when you log in.

7. If you want to delete the channel from your contacts you can use Tools > Delete selected contact(s) menu command.

When receiving a message from a channel both user name and channel name are displayed. In Loudtalks history you can use context menu on the incoming message to add the user who sent it to your contacts with one click. We are building the directory of the channels available to make the discovery easier.

Creating and managing your own channel

Have something interesting to share with the world? You can create one or more channels yourself!

1. Use Tools > Create a channel… menu command.

2. Name your channel, add description, select the channel type and click Next.

It’s very important to write a good and detailed description — the keywords it includes can be used by others to find your channel. Include the language of your channel, and its location (for location-sensitive information) into description. You can either allow anyone to talk on the channel or make it broadcast-only so you can talk uninterrupted. In the later case you may want to create another channel specifically for comments and mention it in the main channel description.

3. If the channel name is available, it’ll be created, added to your contacts and available for others to join.

4. The person who created the channel becomes channel administrator and have additional functions available in the context menu on incoming message in the history.

To fight abuse the channel admin can block any user from accessing the channel (or unblock the user previously blocked).

Hope you’ll enjoy the new feature! It’s still an early version of it so please share your suggestions and feedback — either in comments here or via ‘support’ channel in Loudtalks Lite.

Update (May 12, 2010): Now you can browse the public channels online.

Loudtalks on Twitter

By Alexey Gavrilov on May 18, 2009

Are you a Twitter user? You can follow Loudtalks’s releases and “behind the scenes” updates at then!

Nominate Loudtalks for The Crunchies

By Alexey Gavrilov on December 6, 2007

Crunchies2007We decided that it would be cool to nominate Loudtalks for one of The Crunchies awards.

If you think we deserve it, please support us by clicking on that cheesy round button on the left and entering “loudtalks” into “Best Bootstrapped Start-up” category. You may nominate us into different categories as well 🙂


Using “voices” to find new friends in Loudtalks

By Alexey Gavrilov on November 7, 2007

This is a second iteration of Deepwell experiment. The previous one (the attempt to use it as a test contact) was unsuccessful and resulted in a bunch of support emails, which sounded nearly schizophrenic: “…sometimes I hear voices, how do I hear myself?”

We let “echo” do what it’s supposed to do and moved Deepwell robot over to “voices” username. After a little modification now it could be used to meet new people in quite unusual way.

Here is how to use it:

  1. Add “voices” to your contacts
  2. Select “voices” in your contacts list, push F7 button and speak something about yourself for 5-20 seconds.
  3. Release F7 button and hear the message from another user, which will be randomly picked up from the queue.
  4. Watch the status line as it tells you, who was the author of the message you are hearing
  5. If you like, what you hear, add the user to your contacts and as soon as he approves your request — you can talk!
  6. Repeat steps 2-5 until as necessary 🙂

Since this feature is experimental and just launched you might notice that there are few messages in the pipeline. That’s normal and if anybody will find it useful, there will be many more interesting people to meet there soon!

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