First responders remember dark days after Katrina - Tucson News Now

First responders remember dark days after Katrina

WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) -

By Doug Walker – bio | email

WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - When Hurricane Katrina struck on August 29, 2005, the world of Waveland first responders was turned upside down. As the fifth anniversary nears, they gather at the trailer that serves as the fire station to collect their thoughts and share their memories of that awful day. The memories are painful and bring out the raw emotion of that moment in time. 

Lt. Mac Cowand is a police officer, and he remembers how he felt.  

"Helpless, and you're looking for help. We were lucky," Cowand said. "We had people from Florida come in who had been through it. Three or four days later, we had Orange County, Polk County and they really helped us out." 

In an ironic twist of fate, first responders like Assistant Fire Chief Mike Smith almost became victims themselves.  

"When the water came in the fire station and started coming up the hallway, that was very unique and so at that point, it was just survival honestly," Smith said.  "We went from being a rescuer to almost needing rescue." 

Cowand said it was very frustrating for the men and women who were so used to helping those in need.  

"You have no patrol car, no cell phones, no communication whatsoever with the outside world. You have no way to get around and do anything for anybody because everything is completely inundated." 

But Smith said they managed to get out and walk through what was left of the city, and offer what little aid and comfort they could. 

"And I remember the morning after walking down Gulfside and I was walking over trees and through the debris and people were emerging from their homes that morning and it was like,  I related to the after effects of a bomb dropping. People walking out, they looked dazed and confused and everybody looked like that."

But even in the midst of all that misery, the presence of the first responders stood out.

"Just to see us, I think made it a lot better for the citizens because they knew that not everything was gone," Fire Captain Tony Mallini remembered.  "They were just happy to see somebody else."  

Standing and walking along the still desolate parts of the Waveland beachfront, it brings to mind the incredible sacrifices made by the first responders.  Those sacrifices did not go unnoticed by the public in the days and weeks after the storm. There was a sense of real gratitude for what they brought to the table. 

Howard Parker, a detective with the police department, recalled the tears of joy from desperate citizens.  

"Some people would cry and they would just thank you. Something as simple as a bag of ice meant the world to some of the people after the hurricane," Parker said. "They would show emotion and break down and cry and let you know they appreciated what you were trying to do, and let you know that they were thinking about us and were wishing they could give something back to help us at that time." 

The final death toll in Hancock County was 56. Despite the danger, and their own losses, every first responder told us they wouldn't think twice about doing it all over again if another Katrina should ever strike the coast.

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.

  • Local newsMore>>

  • Repair shop manager arrested, facing fraud & theft charges

    Repair shop manager arrested, facing fraud & theft charges

    Wednesday, October 18 2017 11:59 PM EDT2017-10-19 03:59:43 GMT
    Raymond Collins (Source: Tucson Police Department)Raymond Collins (Source: Tucson Police Department)

    Tucson police told Tucson News Now that Raymond Collins, a manager at the Midas at Speedway and Craycroft made false warranty claims, from October 2014 to April 2016, totaling $7,900.

    Tucson police told Tucson News Now that Raymond Collins, a manager at the Midas at Speedway and Craycroft made false warranty claims, from October 2014 to April 2016, totaling $7,900.

  • Code change approved that would let county residents keep chickens

    Code change approved that would let county residents keep chickens

    Wednesday, October 18 2017 11:49 PM EDT2017-10-19 03:49:50 GMT
    (Source: Pablo/Buffer)(Source: Pablo/Buffer)

    The changes allow for up to eight female chickens on single-family dwelling lots or manufactured home lots 6,000 square feet or larger. 

    The changes allow for up to eight female chickens on single-family dwelling lots or manufactured home lots 6,000 square feet or larger. 

  • Strange object in the sky is NOT a UFO, it's a balloon

    Strange object in the sky is NOT a UFO, it's a balloon

    Wednesday, October 18 2017 11:44 PM EDT2017-10-19 03:44:45 GMT
    Photo of 'stratollite' balloon taken in the skies over Elfrida, AZ.  (Source: See, Snap, Send it/Karen and David Stryker)Photo of 'stratollite' balloon taken in the skies over Elfrida, AZ. (Source: See, Snap, Send it/Karen and David Stryker)

    Many viewers have called about seeing something in the sky over the south side this morning and we have an answer for you.  

    Many viewers have called about seeing something in the sky over the south side this morning and we have an answer for you.  

  • Trending StoriesTrending StoriesMore>>

  • A painful pumpkin patch warning about ticks

    A painful pumpkin patch warning about ticks

    Wednesday, October 18 2017 12:27 PM EDT2017-10-18 16:27:31 GMT
    A California woman warning about ticks in the pumpkin patch. (Source: Facebook)A California woman warning about ticks in the pumpkin patch. (Source: Facebook)

    A woman has taken to Facebook with a painful warning for anyone heading to pumpkin patches this fall.  In the post Jennifer Velasquez says she contracted Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever after wearing flip-flops and shorts to a pumpkin patch.  Jennifer Velasquez

    A woman has taken to Facebook with a painful warning for anyone heading to pumpkin patches this fall.  In the post Jennifer Velasquez says she contracted Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever after wearing flip-flops and shorts to a pumpkin patch.  Jennifer Velasquez

  • As US warns of Cuba attacks, tourists ask: Were we hit, too?

    As US warns of Cuba attacks, tourists ask: Were we hit, too?

    Thursday, October 19 2017 6:11 AM EDT2017-10-19 10:11:36 GMT
    Thursday, October 19 2017 6:52 AM EDT2017-10-19 10:52:01 GMT

    Chris Allen's mysterious illness on a private 2014 visit to Havana illustrates how profoundly damaging the Cuba mystery has been for two long-estranged neighbors that only recently sought to patch up their...

    Chris Allen's mysterious illness on a private 2014 visit to Havana illustrates how profoundly damaging the Cuba mystery has been for two long-estranged neighbors that only recently sought to patch up their relationship.

  • Trump rejects claims he was disrespectful to grieving family

    Trump rejects claims he was disrespectful to grieving family

    Thursday, October 19 2017 4:31 AM EDT2017-10-19 08:31:48 GMT
    Thursday, October 19 2017 6:15 AM EDT2017-10-19 10:15:10 GMT

    Trump started the storm this week when he claimed that he alone of U.S. presidents had called the families of all slain soldiers.

    Trump started the storm this week when he claimed that he alone of U.S. presidents had called the families of all slain soldiers.

Powered by Frankly