Gulfport Rescue Team Cleans Storm Ravaged Gulf Shores - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

09/23/04

Gulfport Rescue Team Cleans Storm Ravaged Gulf Shores

Gulfport fireman Brian Sullivan directed his vounteer clean up team around a Gulf Shores driveway.

"Let's get this rolled over as far as we can get it," he said, pointing to a clumb of dead tree limbs.

Those limbs covered Annie Neenan's yard.

"They're just like guardian angels," she said, referring to the Gulfport crew that removed her storm debris.

For a week, Neenan felt trapped. She had no way to dig out from Hurricane Ivan's assault. Suddenly five rays of hope appeared in Gulf Shores.

"I stopped and I asked if they could help me," she said.

In a matter of minutes, the five members of Gulfport's law enforcement community -- and their chain saws -- went to work, fully aware that this could have been the Mississippi Gulf Coast if Ivan hadn't turned east at the last minute. Gulfport police officer Julian Slaughter was one of the volunteers.

"We got very, very lucky," he said, explaining why he felt a need to drive east and help another community recover from Ivan's wrath.

Everywhere you looked, you could see how Ivan tore apart the Gulf Shores community. So, the hard working volunteers from Gulfport's law enforcement community put in three long, tiring days to put Gulf Shores back together.

For Brian Sullivan, "The gratification is just tremendous."

Annie Neenan's gratification came in a smile and a promise.

"I'm going to send a donation to the police department at Christmas time," she said.

Gulfport deputy chief Paul Bennett said his team has received all sorts of comments just like that since it arrived on Wednesday.

"I tell you, we've left people crying," he said. "Everybody that we've helped out has given us a hug and just said God blessed us. And that makes it worthwhile."

Bennett actually led the second team of Gulfport volunteers. The original team worked last weekend. This Gulfport law enforcement team will be in Gulf Shores through tomorrow. They'll be replaced on Saturday by a third group of Gulfport volunteers.

by Brad Kessie

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