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Sgt. Vitrano has been working as a New Orleans police officer for more than a quarter of a century. He was on his 23rd year with the force when Katrina hit.
Jay returned home to New Orleans early on the day the storm struck. He had been with his family for a weekend away at the beach. But while they fled the area to higher ground, Jay remained behind so that he could report to work on time.
About halfway through the storm, Jay's neighbor woke him up by rapping on his window. When he got up, Jay's home had water waist-high. Jay went next door to ride out the storm with his neighbor, who had a two-story home.
A couple of days later, Jay and his neighbor were rescued by boat. Jay went straight to work at the 7th District. His district lost 93 of their 97 vehicles to the damaging floods.
During his post-Katrina work, Sgt. Vitrano was involved in rounding up people who were stealing the postal mail trucks that the authorities were using for their rescue efforts. He also went on patrol with the military and he says each day was a completely new situation.
Luckily, Jay and his family emerged physically unscathed from the storm. But their house was not so fortunate. They lost literally everything in their home -- furniture, clothes, photographs, appliances -- everything.
After the storm, the Vitrano home was basically unlivable. What remained of the home was covered with mold. There were no walls, no privacy, windows were damaged and not sealable and there were no conveniences except for one toilet. Jay had an extension chord which he would alternate using with a space heater and a lamp. Sgt. Vitrano was sleeping on a cot in the middle of these conditions when CHC met him.
Jay may have been living at this falling-down home, but there was no way he could ever host his kids at the mold-infested residence. A major reason that CHC took on the project was that Jay's sons, a 23-year-old with special needs and a 14-year-old, needed a safe environment to spend time with their father.
Cops Helping Hops told us about the Vitrano home, and America's Most Wanted came along for the ride with the Michigan Sheriffs.
We made our way to New Orleans to not only document the reconstruction of Jay's house, but we wanted to do our part to help out the cops helping Sgt. Vitrano.
The Michigan Sheriffs told us about cases that they need your help on as soon as possible. These fugitives and missing people need to be found with the help of AMW tipsters.