Biloxi May Turn Public Works Into First Responders - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Biloxi May Turn Public Works Into First Responders

These days Biloxi public work crews are back to cleaning up trash like what was left over from the Biloxi Seafood Festival. Following Katrina, the crews had to clear the roads of hurricane debris so that rescue workers could look for survivors and secure the area.

"I was at work at about five o'clock in the morning and started opening the roads up so all the firemen and policemen could get in here and help people get out of their houses," said worker John Hargrove.

After Katrina, getting roads passable as soon as possible wasn't the only duty for public works employees.

"They were dedicated," said Richard Sullivan, director. "They were coming out. They were out there during the storm trying to find water services and pushing debris trying to find water services. They were fixing breaks, main breaks, and trying to get all the facilities back up and going. They did an excellent job."

Sullivan says the role that public works played after Katrina was like a first responder. He says an official designation won't bring extra pay, but it will give them recognition for being on the front lines during a disaster.

"To be considered a first responder is just to be able to be recognized that you do play a major part in what happens in Biloxi," he said. 

Sullivan says he is hopeful that a first responder designation will make his staff eligible for some of the same hurricane recovery grants given to firefighters and police. He says dozens of public works employees lost everything to Katrina.

by Danielle Thomas 

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