One is a large city. The other a small town. In in the wake of Katrina, residents of Long Beach, California, and Long Beach, Mississippi, have come to share much more than a name. On Wednesday, the California city made the latest of thousands of dollars in donations.
When Fire Chief Dave Ellis arrived in Mississippi just days after Katrina, the California man couldn't believe his eyes. He was amazed by both the destruction in Long Beach and the spirit of the people.
"I'd look at the community," said Chief Ellis. "I'd look at everybody leaving their houses and they were already making an effort to get back the recovery mode."
To help in recovery, Chief Ellis' hometown of Long Beach, CA, adopted Mississippi's Long Beach by raising money through silent auctions, golf tournaments, and more.
Mayor Bob Foster said, "Just after the hurricane the city council in Long Beach decided that it would be a really nice gesture for Long Beach, California, and for the residents and the businesses to extend a helping hand to people in Long Beach, Mississippi. A lot of communication went back and forth and eventually we started a thing called Long Beach Cares."
As Mississippi firefighters hung their namesake city's flag, the California folks reflected on how their town is just as vulnerable to natural disasters.
"When I came through Long Beach, Mississippi, and once that storm surge left, it really looked like an earthquake hit this place," said Chief Ellis. "So that's the lessons I take back. Realizing you're going to be dealing with a situation where there is no infrastructure and absolute devastation. You're going to have to try to find a way to get in a recovery mode as soon as possible so people can continue to live in the community."
If Long Beach, California, ever does need help, South Mississippi's Long Beach plans to be there.
Chief George Bass said, "The hardest job I will have in the event there is a natural disaster outside this area is maintaining a fire fighting force in our department, because we're going to reach out to whomever it is."
The California city's mayor says in the past year his city has donated $300,000 in cash and equipment to Long Beach, Mississippi.