HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - It looks like a setting from CSI. Stainless steel gurneys, equipment and furniture fill the morgue. It is the first morgue in South Mississippi, a place to conduct autopsies.
"Been waiting a long time for it to happen," said Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove. "We've been operating out of funeral homes now for several years in makeshift conditions, not the best conditions."
The morgue is located in the state Crime Lab. The building is part of the new Mississippi Department of Public Safety Complex on Highway 67 in Harrison County. Another building houses the Highway Patrol Troop K. The state Bureau of Investigations (MBI) and state Bureau of Narcotics (MBN) share the third building.
"To see the new MBI, MBN building located here is a dream come true," said MBI Director Raymond Delk. "To have such a nice facility for our agencies to work in creates an atmosphere that everyone can be proud of."
"It's just absolutely an outstanding facility," said MBN Deputy Director Samuel Owens.
Governor Haley Barbour, along with more than 100 people, gathered to dedicate the complex Wednesday. As they celebrated the monumental day, memories of Katrina's destruction came rushing back.
"The way they performed under the most difficult conditions are something that we will always be more proud of than we are of these spectacular facilities," said the governor.
After working out of trailers and temporary facilities, those who call the complex home say it's a symbol of recovery, resilience and pride for South Mississippi.
"Today is a proud day for this organization. We kind of went from rags to riches," said David Murtagh of the MS Highway Patrol.
"With our public safety personnel all in one place, everyone's working together to accomplish one goal, and that's to make this region of the state a safer place," said Charles Brill of the MS Highway Patrol.
The $22 million complex was designed for future disasters. The buildings are reinforced to withstand hurricane force winds. Plus, the complex comes with generators and its own water system.