Oklahoma County reserve deputy reunites with girl he rescued during Louisiana hurricane
A decade later, the little girl an Oklahoma County sheriff's reserve deputy rescued from the aftermath of a pummeling Louisiana hurricane is not so little anymore.
Fifty Oklahoma County sheriff's deputies left the safety of home in 2005 to help evacuate people stranded by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
The last time Michael Davenport saw Hannah Verret, she was 5 years old and fit easily into his arms as he carried her through the flooded streets of Terrebonne Parish.
Davenport, a reserve deputy and president of Integris Credit Union, was on the third of the teams that made their way southeast. His team landed in the Bayou State between the landfall of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
“We have these T-shirts. Ours for Team Three says, ‘We came for Katrina, and stayed for Rita.' It landed on us while we were there,” Davenport said.
“We're staying in a place called Lafourche Parish at Lockport and, in the middle of the night, they wake us up and say, ‘Rita made landfall, and the levees broke and 4,000 people are in their beds,' " he said.
“When we get down there, the whole town's underwater,” Davenport said. “They were on a boat, and they were trying to signal us. We had her whole family in the back of a truck with us.”
They took Hannah and her family to safety before returning to Oklahoma after the completion of their nine-day rotation.
On the 10-year anniversary, Davenport started wondering what happened to the girl, and started making phone calls.
After a couple of dead ends, they called the school district. They happened to have one “Hannah” in the district and called her to the office and showed her the photograph of Davenport and the 5-year-old in her arms.
“That's me,” was her reply.
Within weeks, Davenport and his family were flying to Louisiana, traveling to the bayou community of Dulac where Hannah and her family live.
“All of these people came out of the woodwork. They loved us, they treated us well. It's just like being with family,” he said.
“We walked around the corner and met Hannah. She's not a little girl anymore. She's 6 feet tall. She's taller than I am.”
After a large meal, a tour of the area and plenty of introductions to community leaders, Davenport returned home once more.
To go with the Cajun cookbook he was gifted, he received in the mail a bag of freeze-dried shrimp for cooking some of those meals.
“We expected nothing, and they did an exceptional job. They treated us so very well,” Davenport said. “Quite frankly, right now, my wife and I are planning a vacation to go down there and hang out with these people. They were that cool.”
AT A GLANCE
Deputies who helped
“When others are in need, it’s incumbent upon us to help out. That’s what law enforcement is all about. Giving back to others in their time of need,” Sheriff John Whetsel said. Michael Davenport was one of 50 Oklahoma County sheriff’s deputies who risked life and limb to rescue victims of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. Here are the other 49:
Ralph Cornelius Jr.
Kevin A. Johnson
Jimmy D. Lilly Jr.
Paul Heath Richardson
Frank M. Worth