When Hurricane Katrina hit, Tim Miller was the Fire Chief for the Meridian Fire Department. He is no the director of Meridian's Department of Homeland Security. In 2005, David Sharp was a Senior Training Instructor for the Meridian Fire Department and the Office of Homeland Security. Currently he is the Director of LEMA. We talked to both men about what they remember when Katrina hit.
As Hurricane Katrina edged closer to land, emergency officials prepared to the best of their abilities.
"And we were trying to watch the storm as it got closer and tried to do the best we could to get prepared. We had all of our people that we could have on duty with extra food, water, and supplies like that. And just prepare for the storm that way ready to go," says Tim Miller.
"Make sure we had generators topped off, had fuel cells topped off, had chainsaws sharpened and tightened and topped those off with fuel and oil and everything. And just made sure we had everything that we needed to start cutting our ways through trees after the storm," says David Sharp.
According to Miller the Meridian Fire Department never stopped responding during the storm. He says it's very dangerous to respond in those kinds of winds and conditions, but his crew responded the entire time.
"What we were trying to do was to help ambulances to get out to people to perform rescues, take people to hospitals, those kinds of things. So they were cutting trees, clearing roads, working with the city's homeland security, with people from the county, with police, with all of the emergency responders that were out during the storm, but our fire department stayed out the entire time."
Both Miller and Sharp say the emergency calls during Katrina were endless. With so many people in danger, they were forced to prioritize.
"The biggest things to work on were the calls coming in during the storm that were life threatening situations," says Sharp.
With such a powerful storm, certain situations are bound to stick out. Even with the flooding in downtown Meridian and tree limbs scattered everywhere, Sharp and Miller say the one thing that stands out the most is the people.
"One of the things that really stuck out for me, was not so much what we were doing, but the way people reacted; how grateful people were and how people worked with their neighbors trying to help each other and trying to check on each other," describes Miller.
"One of the things that really stands out was the way that the people of Mississippi and Meridian and Lauderdale County acted during and after the storm. It was a sense of helping your neighbor and it wasn't, 'Well when is someone going to help us out, waiting on the government to help us out'. People starting helping their friends and neighbors. We took care of our own," remembers Sharp.