New book profiles hero firefighters during Katrina

By Kim Gritter
New Orleans Times-Picayune
Copyright 2007 The Times-Picayune Publishing Company 

NEW ORLEANS - After more than a year of researching and writing, local author Michelle Mahl Buuck's new book, "Hurricane Katrina and the St. Bernard Fire Department," was released March 28.

The 300-page book recounts the experiences of St. Bernard Parish firefighters during and after Hurricane Katrina.

Published by Xlibris, a partner with Random House Adventures, the book is full of stories and photographs depicting how St. Bernard's firefighters not only served as first responders but also became victims themselves.

Buuck, who comes from a family with three generations of firefighters, said she wrote the book at the urging of her son, Caleb Garner, a St. Bernard Parish firefighter since 2003.

Buuck interviewed hundreds of firefighters, who recounted their individual struggles and sacrifices.

"Many of the men told me talking about it was therapeutic for them," she said. "They shed many tears as they spoke of the things they went through."

St. Bernard Fire Chief Thomas Stone is elated by the book's release.

"I'm excited that she wrote the book because I think it gives the members of the department the needed recognition for what they went through," Stone said. "We faced what no other fire department has ever faced in the history of the United States. We didn't have one part of our parish that wasn't flooded, like in other parishes, and almost all of us lost our own homes."

St. Bernard Parish Councilman Craig Taffaro wrote the foreword to the book.

To buy the book, call (888) 795-4274, visit or go to Smartie Pants Bookstore in Chalmette.

For information, call Buuck at (504) 214-1291.

Proceeds from the book will go to the St. Bernard Fire Fighters Local 1468 Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund, which will directly benefit St. Bernard Parish firefighters and their families, Buuck said.

"This is their moment," she said of the firefighters. "I am happy that so many people will see this book because they deserve for people to know what they went through."

Buuck is a senior project coordinator for a global energy services company. She wrote community news features for The Times-Picayune from 1992 to 2004.

Buuck, who now lives in Covington with her husband, Ted Buuck, and their two children, hopes to someday reside in St. Bernard Parish again.

Copyright © 2013 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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