Gulf Coast looks back, 8 years since Katrina

Thursday, August 29 marks eight years since Hurricane Katrina wrecked South Mississippi and Louisiana. Homes were pummeled by high winds and debris, businesses were destroyed, and the death toll, including Louisiana, climbed all the way to 1,833; however, that did not stop people from banding together. A group of Pine Belt public servants gathered Thursday to reflect.

People like Bennie Sellers, former director of public service for Hattiesburg barely slept for weeks for the sake of lending a hand to those in need.

"Our first mission was to get the roadways open so people could make way to the hospital," Sellers said.

Those without water, food and shelter were welcomed by the Salvation Army with open arms as lines formed around the building.

"We provided over 530,000 gallons of water to people and when you look at it, it's kind of hard to comprehend the numbers and details that were coming forth," said Joy Lines, administrative secretary at The Salvation Army.

Those who still can't find words to say when reflecting on the aftermath thumb through photos by reporters on the scene.

"My vehicle was totaled. It was strange, because I was used to producing news photos. I wasn't expecting to be the news," said Matt Bush, former Hattiesburg American intern photographer.

Victims went from rebuilding homes to building friendships.

"This is South Mississippi. Everybody has a chain saw and knows how to use it. Neighbors who barely talked became friends and eat supper together weekly to this day," said Terri Steed of Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.

Even displaced pets found a home in volunteers and veterinarians who traveled from across the country to help out.

"There were truckloads of food and shelter for pets," said Babs Faulk, former director of South Central Red Cross.