WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - The City of Waveland had a reason to celebrate on the 11th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Its brand new public safety complex was dedicated during a ribbon cutting ceremony Monday morning.
The sprawling public safety complex on McLaurin St. was abuzz with activity as dozens made their way inside for the first time. The new courtroom was standing room only to hear from those who had a hand in the facility's construction.
"This is an absolute castle compared to what they were in," said resident Carolyn Hollister.
The department went from operating out of temporary structures to cutting the ribbon on this more than 14,000-square-foot facility.
"At this point, you look back and you think, how did we do it? The important thing is we did it, and if we could make it work out of a trailer, it's amazing to think about what we can do in a building like this," said Police Chief David Allen.
Allen remembered the long, drawn out process of getting to this point. He said there were hiccups and speed bumps along the way, both big and small. Financial issues plagued the facility during construction. Allen said getting to this dedication overshadowed it all.
"We kind of thought this day would never come," said Allen.
The facility is named after John Longo, Jr. and Donald Dorn, two prominent figures in Waveland history. Longtime residents who watched the destruction of Katrina and the comeback of a bigger, better building are filled with pride.
"I think it's great. Really great. It's been a long time coming," said Kenny Fayard.
"It's beautiful. They have lots of room," said Marilyn Smith.
According to Allen, the building was designed to withstand hurricane force winds and serve as an Emergency Operations Center. That's something Mayor Mike Smith said wasn't true about the facilities that housed the department for the past decade.
"They can come here, and this is their home. That means a lot," said Smith.
Allen said the facility ultimately came in under budget and was completed a little earlier than expected.