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CBN.com David Kithcart [reporting]: Almost six months after Hurricane Katrina’s winds and flood waters devastated the coastal community of Pass Christian, Mississippi, it remains virtually a ghost town. There are signs of life returning, but it’s going to be a slow process.
It’s Police Chief John Dubbisson’s job, along with the officers in his command, to maintain law and order as the town struggles to return to some level of normalcy.
Chief John Dubbisson: We will rebuild this town. It probably won’t happen in my lifetime or yours, but it’s gonna happen. It’s gonna take a while. I’m talking about generations -- not just years -- to get it back to any kind of normalcy. It’s a mess; it really is. The police department was destroyed. The police department is operating out of two trailers. Across the tennis court is the court system.
David Kithcart [reporting]: Days after the storm, The 700 Club brought you the report of Pass Christian police officers trapped inside the city’s library. But, there is something personal within that story. On the day Hurricane Katrina hit land, Sgt. Josh McConnell, his fellow officers, and police support personnel were forced to escape from their police cruisers to the higher ground of the library.
Sgt. Josh McConnell: Our cars got flooded, we was floating’ down the road, and we had to roll the window down. I had a picture of my son on my dash. We had to swim out of our cars.
We was thinking we’d be all right. You know, it was leaking through the cracks of the walls and everything, but it wasn’t pouring in. As a car hit the door and caved that complete door in, the water rushed in and filled up. We all jumped on some bookshelves. The water was going so fast in there; it was just destroying the bookshelves we were standing on. It was just tearing them apart. We fell in the water.
The only thing I had was just a picture of him. I held onto it, the water rushed in, and I was swimming back and forth trying to bust these windows out. I had his picture in my mouth.
Our chief told us to shoot some of these windows to get some pressure to equal out [and] to let the water just rush through. The windows were too thick; they wouldn’t bust.
I told everybody, “We need to get out of here. We need to try to get out and get out of this water.” ‘Cause it was gonna push us up to the ceiling. I still had that picture in my mouth, and I just kept looking at it thinking, “I’m not gonna let him miss me like this. He needs me, I need him.”
Kirthcart: What were you praying? What were you saying to God about it?
Sgt. McConnell: “Just please, let everybody make it.” There were some young officers in there, some old officers, people who had their family, and people like me who had just started a family. It was another officer in there who had just had a baby. We just needed to get though it. I was praying to make sure all of us got through.
He reached down, got our spirits, and then we took over after that. Once He told us that we were gonna be okay, we took over.
Kithcart: Now how did you get that? That you were gonna be okay?
Sgt. McConnell: It was like a flash. My heart was going a million miles an hour. I had 3,000 things running through my mind. Then all of a sudden, it just went away, and it was like a focus: go here, go here, go here. That’s when we told everybody, “Let’s get out of here.”
So our chief got down through the water, grabbed a chair, beat on the door, and finally the door opened up. When it did, the water rushed out. He got stuck between the bush and this railing. Told us all to come out.
It was like a tunnel. We filed out that door like it was meant to be -- like we’d been training for it for years. We all pulled together. It was amazing. It was like we’d known each other all our life. This was our family. We all looked out for each other.
Kithcart [reporting]: The officers made it to a school and shelter. But, it was four days later before Josh saw his wife and son, Sutton.
Sgt. McConnell: Whenever they drove up in the driveway, it was relief. Nothing else mattered. He was safe. It was great. We lost our home, everything we owned. A pair of shoes was all I owned to my name whenever the storm was over with. Just seeing him made me forget about everything.
Kithcart [reporting]: Josh attributes his sudden confidence that he and his fellow officers would escape to one thing.
Sgt. McConnell: I believe it was the Lord that helped us do all this. No doubt in my mind. I believe He looked down and said, “Hey, ya’ll 13, let’s go. Ya’ll be okay.” With His help, we made it.
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