DNR Deploys Rangers To Katrina Aftermath

GON Staff | October 4, 2005

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Georgia DNR deployed four separate teams of officers from Law Enforcement, Game Management, Fisheries and Parks to Louisiana and Mississippi to assist with law enforcement and body-recovery efforts.

A team of 41 officers was deployed to New Orleans on a two-week assignment to assist with search-and-rescue and security efforts. Two 11-member mass fatality teams, specially trained in body-recovery procedures, were dispatched to the Biloxi, Miss. area for one-week assignments. A fourth team, made up of six officers returned to Mississippi to assist in body recovery and was scheduled to return to Georgia by September 24, ending, at least for the moment, Georgia DNR’s participation.

A Georgia DNR Law Enforcement and a Parks vehicle on a street in front of a hurricane hit area near Biloxi, Mississippi.

DNR Law Enforcement Cpl. James “Bo” Kelly of Madison was assigned to the second mass-fatality team. The team was housed at barracks at the Keesler Air Force Base near Biloxi.

“We went out on 12-hour shifts into three communities to assist with body recovery,” said Cpl. Kelly. “For three blocks from the ocean it looked like bulldozers had plowed everything away.”

Cpl. Kelly and the rest of his team walked through destroyed neighborhoods searching, primarily by smell, for bodies.

Cpl. Kelly said that his team recovered five bodies.

“You would think that you would get used to the devastation,” he said. “But each day it was a shock to see. Everything smelled like marsh mud, sewage and rotting garbage. We found dogs that had drowned in back yards or in houses, dead cats, squirrels, pelicans, sea gulls — even a dead sea lion from a local aquarium.”

According to DNR Law Enforcement Col. Terry West, 75 percent of the cost of the deployment will be paid by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The remaining 25 percent will be paid — at some point – by the state where the aid was provided.

DNR personnel deployed to Mississippi searched the rubble in destroyed neighborhoods looking for bodies.

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