After hearing how badly things went in NO immediately after Katrina, I want to report on a completely different scenario 60 miles away. I live in Kiln, MS, a semi-rural part of Hancock County, about 6 miles north of Bay Saint Louis and Waveland. Excuse me if I ramble a bit; I'm just trying to give a clear picture of LS response, and interaction, both between agencies and with citizens.
The sheriff's department is located in Bay St. Louis, which took a huge pounding. As a result, they lost a large number of cruisers, and the building itself. Nevertheless, the morning after the storm, when I did a quick survey of the area near my house (on foot -- all my cars were under water), deputies were on the job. They were spread thin, but they were out there.
Wednesday, supply trucks rolled in, escorted by Alabama State Police and our county Constable. As dumb luck would have it, they set up in a parking lot within walking distance of my house, so after getting food, ice and water for my family, I went back and helped the officers hand out supplies. The same crew was back the next day with more supplies.
Friday or Saturday, I rode down into Waveland with my neighbor, following (incorrect) rumors of aid available down there. The town scene was much uglier than it was in the country. At supply points, every officer and Guardsman was wearing multiple sidearms, and most had long guns, as well. Of course, the towns, being lower and nearer the water, had been hit harder, so people were much more freaked out.
Waveland's police station had been completely flooded; 30 or so officers rode out the storm there, and nearly drowned. All or most of their cruisers were lost. Florida state police and sheriff's deputies were there in large numbers, directing traffic, maintaining order, and so on.
Days later, I spoke with a Waveland police sergeant who told me that the FL guys had told him, "Sergeant, we've got your town. Go take care of your family." That was the one moment in the whole disaster when I had tears in my eyes.
The out of state LE response was (and continues to be) phenomenal. In the area between my AO and Biloxi, I've seen officers from Texas, Nevada, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, about 10 MS counties, as well as others I'm probably forgetting. Bear in mind that we don't have nice cozy hotel rooms or even barracks for these guys; most of them were sleeping on cots in tents -- when they got a chance to sleep.
Looting... there's been some, but not the level we're hearing about in NO. One night, I saw blue lights on my (dead-end) road, so I went out to investigate. Once I determined that they weren't in pursuit, I flagged the vehicle down. Turned out to be two MS troopers in what looked like a POV. They said they'd had reports of looting, asked if I'd had any trouble. After cheerfully reminding me that lootershooting is Highly Approved, they asked if we needed anything, and left me with food, water, and a promise to return.
Meanwhile, I was hearing about all the craziness in NO. It was kind of surreal, hearing commentators rant about the slow response, police deserting their posts, blah blah blah. NO is an hour away from me, but it was like hearing about another planet altogether. Frankly, I'm still trying to work out exactly why things were so different here, but I thank God that we had the sense to move out of town to a community where LE and civilians feel like they're on the same side.
Ruger97 Hope all is going well there. Daughter and her husband just moved from Kiln back to Pennsylvania. I was down there about a year ago. It was/is/and and sure will be a nice place. People treated us real good while there. Take care and hope recovery goes well.