Friday, September 02, 2005

4:27 p.m. CDT
The pain of surviving the flood to be consumed by fire.
"One of our officer's house burned down," said Detective Leonard Papania. "We couldn't get to him. He watched his whole house burn down in front of him,"
Before the storm he was the officer in charge of internal affairs. Now he is trying to give his comrades on the Gulfport Police Department some peace of mind while they do the hardest work of their lives.
Of those comrades, he said that somewhere between 30 and 50 percent have either had significant damage to their homes or have seen them reduced to piles of debris.
"These officers are gonna have to contend with looters of need; people who are stealing for food and water," he said before jumping out of the cruiser to contend with three looters of greed. They were walking through a flattened neighborhood by the beach, picking through other people's belongings and keeping what they wanted.
"We're fatigued, the people are fatigued," he said. "Things are only going to get worse."

Papania has set up a fund for firefighters and officers who have suffered damage or destruction to their homes.
It is called the Gulfport Police and Fire Benefit Fund. It is an account at Whitney Bank.
Account #: 74018775
Routing #: 065000171

Deposits to the bank can be made between Tampa and Houston at Whitney.
You can also send contributions to
Carolyn Stachura
2186 Collins Blvd.
Gulfport, MS 39507

***n.b.: I met both Stachura and Papania. They seem like good and truthful people and truly concerned about the well being of emergency responders, but I have done nothing to verify this fund.***