Law Officers Return From Katrina Coast

Some opened their homes, others gave money and many volunteered their services.

A group of law enforcement officers from Tallahassee went to storm ravaged Mississippi to help keep the peace. They returned Thursday night.

Law enforcement and paramedics help folks on a day to day basis, but their experience in hurricane ravaged Mississippi has made an impact on their lives that they'll never forget.

For the past eight days Leon County deputies and paramedics were in Hancock County, Mississippi restoring order and helping with the recovery efforts.

While Americans were glued to their televisions, these men were able to see the destruction and mayhem firsthand.

DEP Andrew Dawson of the Leon County Sheriff's Office said, "This damage was way beyond described as disturbingly cataclysmic. From the beach to a mile north in Hancock there was nothing left it was just slap and sand.

Derek Mitchka, a Leon County paramedic, adds, "You can't put it into a video, it's more of an emotional content than anything else, unless you're there you don't see the true picture, you don't experience the smell."

Hurricane Katrina's powerful winds claimed several lives, leaving an unmistakable scent of death behind and forcing everyone to come face to face with their own mortality.

DEP Steven Bradley says, "I talked to this one gentleman, everything he had was gone and even his wife's ashes were gone, and he doesn't know where his house is. It was a very surreal feeling.”

But the feeling most shared is one of help and comfort during trying times. Officers say showing a little human compassion, like sharing a toy with a toddler, meant so much.

Dawson says, "He was glad for that teddy bear and he was missing a nose and everything and the mother started crying, it was very powerful."

Those volunteers assisted in arresting looters and bringing water to the victims and just bringing comfort to those in need. These men say they learn to appreciate the little things in life, the things we take for granted. It's a lesson we all can learn from this catastrophe.


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