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Public Safety Workers Helping To Rebuild Katrina-Ravaged City

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WAVELAND, MISS. — Not much is left of

Waveland, Miss.

, police officer Steve Beale's house.

The only thing left on his property after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast last August: other people's debris.

But just one day after losing his home, he and his fellow officers were back on the job.

"You have to do your job, and that's what we did," Beale said. "We just went back to work."

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    (from Sept. 15, 2005)
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    Waveland, Miss.

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    Katrina Town Fights For Survival

    Like rebuilding houses, rebuilding city services is vital to bringing communities back that were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

    And public safety workers in Waveland intend to be there every step of the way.

    Twenty-seven people were inside the Waveland Police Department when Katrina went through. Water rose all the way to the building's attic. Those inside survived by climbing onto the roof.

    The department lost all its patrol cars and all of its equipment. But with the help of donated resources, the 17 police officers who stayed on after Katrina hit are doing their best to restore hope to the small city.

    "I mean, if we didn't do it, who's going to do it?" said Waveland Assistant Police Chief Mike Pendergraft. "I'm dedicated to my job here. I love what I do. I stuck it out this long, I'm not going to give up now."

    Police officers say their biggest challenge, now, is dealing with the number of transient people who are in town working on the recovery effort.

    Waveland firefighters agree that they too must stay.

    Like most city services in the Mississippi Gulf area, both departments are housed in trailers and will be indefinitely.

    The city's fire department also lost its equipment. Fire departments from across the nation, including Apex, donated trucks to the force.

    With all of the debris, and with many people living in trailers from the

    Federal Emergency Management Agency

    , the risk for fire is much greater than before.

    And that's why firefighters stay.

    "It's our job as firefighters," said Waveland Fire Chief David Garcia. "I'm born and raised here; it's important to me ... It's not just about a city or town, it's home."



    Amanda Lamb, Reporter
    Chad Flowers, Photographer
    Kelly Gardner, Web Editor

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