Two Wheel Forums banner
1 - 5 of 5 Posts

· Banned
6,147 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Stuart police give backup to Mississippi colleagues


The officers had cut the word "POLICE" from their orange mesh traffic vests and taped it to doors of their pickup trucks. That's how cops from the Waveland Police Department identified themselves in Hurricane Katrina-ravaged Mississippi, as they answered calls with no patrol cars, radios — or even shelter.

The scene was seared into the minds of six hurricane-experienced Stuart police officers, whose weekend emergency supply run made it to their fellow officers on the Gulf Coast on Sunday.

"When we drove away, we were all choked up about how much they lost, and yet they were still on the job performing their duties," said Stuart Master Officer Brian Huffman, on the phone near Pensacola, while driving home Monday.

"I asked one officer how his family was. He goes, 'They're scattered in the wind in other parts of the country.' "

The Stuart officers acted quickly after reading a story about how personnel at the 26-member department hung on to a bush while others rode out the storm on the roof of their flooded police station during the height of the storm. All were reportedly accounted for.

Several Stuart officers raised $5,000 to buy supplies, and drove a minivan and a large rented tuck from here about 3 p.m. Sunday.

They drove through the night: There was Huffman, Sgt. Jim Egbers, Lt. Tom Harmer, Officer Mike Gerwan, Officer Jeff Kittredge and Master Officer Steve Graff.

"One of the most visible memories I'll have is the steady line of disabled vehicles along the road" to Waveland, Huffman said. "Hundreds of them. As far as the eye could see."

Most all of them sat with open trunks, gas caps and no wheels, as evacuees and others had "appropriated" the fuel and tires, even the spare, to get out of town.

The Stuart officers said they were able to navigate fairly easily with their GPS unit to find 628 Highway 90 West.

The Waveland police station used to be there.

Now it was just swamped with patrol cars stacked on top of each other in a ditch out back.

"I was very, very surprised how much devastation there was," said 27-year Stuart veteran Sgt. Jim Egbers. "I think they're like most officers, very dedicated to their responsibilities (yet) they were shell shocked ... it's a day-to-day survival issue."

The Federal Emergency Management Agency pulled up with water, ice and watermelon about the same time as the Stuart officers, and there was a military presence, too.

One hotel owner walked up and asked police to help quell guests causing trouble.

Stuart officers went out once with their Waveland counterparts, who remained in "very good spirits overall."

"When I say there's nothing there, there's shells of buildings," Egbers said.

They didn't see any corpses, "But we really didn't look either," he said.

A few 10-by-10 awning-type tents were set up for shelter, and there were outdoor showers and portable toilets set up at the uninhabitable police station.

"One officer described how, when the storm surge came up, they had to cut their way out through a skylight," Huffman said. "They held onto each other while one or two of them held on to this bush ... they clung to each other until the water went down."

Still hours from home Monday, the Stuart officers were already planning a return trip simply because, amid the destruction, the Waveland police were still on duty.
1 - 5 of 5 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.