Waveland Leaders Prepare Storm Battered City

A vulnerable Waveland is getting set for yet another hurricane season. Leaders are preparing their storm-ravaged city for the special challenges another hurricane could bring.

With storm season just over three weeks away, they're refining the lessons learned in Katrina.

"We're probably going to watch it a little closer this year and start giving you all the information sooner than you would normally get it, so you can plan a little bit more for it," said Waveland's fire chief, David Garcia, during a storm plan discussion among city leaders.

The police chief echoed the concern about early information.

"If it's still in the Atlantic or Caribbean, and any forecast that shows it coming into the Gulf, anywhere, you're going to know it. And action's going to be taken," said Chief Jimmy Varnell, whose police department was flooded by Hurricane Katrina's relentless storm surge.

Waveland leaders are understandably a bit skittish about the approaching storm season. Katrina leveled their town and left behind new storm prep challenges.

"FEMA trailers... they're being strapped down so they don't become flying debris," said Mayor Tommy Longo, during the group's plan review.

Leaders will push for an earlier evacuation next time around. They don't imagine most people will require much convincing post-Katrina.

"Some of them still, some of them still chose to stay. But they're no longer with us," said a somber mayor.

City leaders expect many people who refused to evacuate for Katrina will head for safer ground next time. But there's a concern about the cost of evacuating. Many people still struggling with recovery from Katrina, will be less able to afford evacuations.

Hurricane Katrina made Waveland change the way it stages city resources during a storm threat. The city lost most of its fire engines and police cars in the storm surge. Those resources and personnel will be moved further inland.