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Rising from Ruin is an on-going MSNBC.com special report chronicling two coastal Mississippi towns, Bay St. Louis and Waveland, as they rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.

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This project is evolving. Our daily dispatches coverage has been retired. Click here to see what happened in the area between mid October and January 1, 2006.

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It has been sometime since I have written a blog. The daily life of an aftermath of a disaster threw this family a few unexpected curve balls that didn’t leave me much time to do anything but to refocus and get back on track with survival mode.

The holidays, well, it was better than I thought it would be considering the circumstances of celebrating a holiday homeless and in a FEMA trailer in a park. You haven’t lived until you try duct taping Christmas lights to a trailer and getting them to stick!

The best part of the holiday for me was the expression upon my husband’s face on Christmas Day when I was able to see the sparkle in eyes that was there before Katrina.

Richard, alongside his police department and the best bunch of officers in my opinion on the coast, rode the storm out. He has been through so much after the storm, with his re-injury during recovery efforts, the loss of his paycheck, the loss of our home, and his spirits were not those of the once was proud 20-year veteran professional police officer I was so accustomed to living with.

So, as if one of those miracles that only happens at Christmas, here came Santa and he was good to him. Or maybe I should credit the elves were that Santa had working for him this Christmas. Those elves just happen to be the staff of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., and they helped to lift the spirits of the man I happen to be very proud of and love dearly.

The mission of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is to generate increased public support for the law enforcement profession by permanently recording and appropriately commemorating the service and sacrifice of law enforcement officers; and to provide information that will help promote law enforcement safety.

In April 1998, Richard was selected as “Officer of the Month” by the organization. He had received a very prestigious award from them and it’s an honor that Richard always held in the highest regard as the most honorable, respected and most memorable point of his career in law enforcement. He holds company with an elite group of officers across America. We were flown to Washington to accept the award and were treated with such dignity and respect. It was a moment of such joy, but also sadness due to the fact it is during a time that we honor the fallen men and women in law enforcement that have made the ultimate sacrifice of protecting and serving.

After Katrina’s devastating blow and the concrete slab she left us, Richard’s loss was more intense than most. Katrina showed no mercy and everything that he held dearest to his heart was washed away by the storm surge, including his award and all the memorabilia from that important moment of his life. We searched high and low after the storm through debris pile after debris pile searching for the items that meant the most to Richard. Katrina just didn’t play fair.

But it appears the score is now Santa and the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial 1, Katrina 0. On Christmas morning, beneath the tree, was the lost award replaced and extra special gifts to replace what Katrina washed away, memories that Richard thought that were gone forever. His look on his face will always be with me and I owe it all to the NLEOMF staff.

I can’t thank them enough for all they do to honor our men and women in law enforcement with their own dedication and hard work. They lifted the spirits of the man I love and put the sparkle of professionalism and pride back in his eyes. On a personal note: Mr. Floyd, Mrs. Meadows and to the staff of the NLEOMF you folks are truly the best. Thank you so very much for being there for Richard. You lifted the spirits of one of your best of the best! Happy New Years to each of you!

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Patti, So glad to hear that this really important piece of Richard's life has been restored. Your diary entry has tears in my eyes. You're right. Katrina was without mercy. She has tried to take the sparkle out of so many eyes, but I am always so proud of the human spirit. Glad to hear that one has been restored. Good for you for hanging the lights and thank God for Santa and the NLEOMF! I am praying for many better days for you and all in the Bay.

i'm proud ya'lls holidays went well.....about time something did....i'm kinda like Laurie....not sure ...if that ain't.....a damn tear in my eye....God Bless....and may 2006...Shine on ya'll....smile...and everyone else will too!!!

Patti, i'm so glad to hear that you had a very lovely christmas, i have to say, your story brought tears to my eyes, that was so touching. your husband sounds like a wonderful man and i'm glad he got back what he thought he had lost. i hope your 2006 is a wonderful year for you two, and may all your wishes come true!

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