Meridian, Miss. Friday marks nine years since one of the most devastating disasters in U.S. history hit the Gulf Coast. Hurricane Katrina ripped through Louisiana on August 29th, 2005. Dianne Boren from Meridian says her children live in Pascagoula, and she could only listen in horror to what her daughter was facing.
"I was talking to her on her cell phone. They were standing on their bed with three children with their life jackets on. She dropped her phone, that was the last thing I heard," she recounts. "The next thing, they were in chairs on the bar breaking through the ceiling. The water had got up that high."
Katrina did more damage than this area expected - ruining homes, uprooting trees and taking out power for days. The aftermath kept emergency personnel busy nonstop for days.
"I do remember my daughter asking me when the weather got really bad, everybody else was going home and staying with their families, and I had to tell her this is the time when we hit the streets," Metro Ambulance Director Clayton Cobler says.
Only one person in Lauderdale County died from the hurricane. But the days after kept everyone busy, including the crew here at WTOK-TV.
"We had to make provisions for people to literally stay in the building, food and bedding and those kind of things," WTOK-TV General Manger Tim Walker says. "And also, generator equipment to keep the station on the air because at that time, we didn't have the big generators like we have now."
The station learned from the experience; Walker says WTOK has invested millions to be prepared for any similar emergencies in the future. LEMA Director Scott Spears says it's hard to ever truly be ready for a natural disaster like Katrina, but the experience taught them a lot.
"It let us know that we really don't have it made like we think we do," he says. "Anything could happen at any time."