OUR DUTY TO KATRINA’S DEAD: The Storm Left Many Victims, But Made Many Heroes

by Richard Poe
Sunday, September 4, 2005

1:09 pm Eastern Time

The violence and destruction which Hurricane Katrina left in its wake shocked us all. But the storm’s lasting legacy will not be found in the depradations of murderers, rapists and looters, nor in the self-pitying howls of unworthy public servants. Katrina brought out the worst in some folks, but the best in others. It is the latter who deserve our attention. We owe it to Katrina’s dead to remember those who met their fate with courage.

Tonette Jackson of Biloxi, MS stands out in my mind.  Her husband Harvey Jackson told Jennifer Mayerle of WKRG-TV how he lost his wife. Sobbing and holding his small son, Jackson related this tale:

JENNIFER MAYERLE: How are you doing, sir?

HARVEY JACKSON: I’m not doing good.

MAYERLE: What happened?

JACKSON: The house just split in half.

MAYERLE: Your house split in half?

JACKSON: We got up in the roof, all the way to the roof, and water came. And the house just opened up and divided.

MAYERLE: Who was at your house with you?

JACKSON: My wife.

MAYERLE: Where is she now?

JACKSON: Can’t find her body. She’s gone.

MAYERLE: You can’t find your wife?

JACKSON: No, she told — I tried. I hold her hand tight as I could. And she told me, “You can’t hold me.” She said, “Take care of the kids and the grandkids.”

MAYERLE: What’s your wife’s name, in case we can put this out there?

JACKSON: Tonette Jackson.

MAYERLE: And, OK, and what’s your name?

JACKSON: Harvey Jackson.

MAYERLE: Where are you guys going?

JACKSON: We ain’t got nowhere to go. I’m lost. That’s all I had. That’s all I had.

In the final moments of her life, Tonette Jackson thought not of herself but of her husband, who lacked the strength to save her, and of her children and grandchildren whom she commended to Mr. Jackson’s care with her dying breath.

Five days and six nights have passed since Monday, August 29, when Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast with 145-mile-per-hour winds and a storm surge that reached 30 feet. The dead lie unburied and uncounted, probably numbering in the thousands.  Of the ghastly scene in New Orleans, the Washington Post reports this morning that, “the bodies are everywhere: hidden in attics, floating in the ruined city, crumpled in wheelchairs, abandoned on highways.”

Each body bears witness to a mortal struggle whose details we may never know.  This Labor Day weekend, let us take time to pause and reflect on their silent testimony.

Death will claim us all in the end. To some, it will come quietly and mercifully. To others, it will come with raging violence, as it came for Tonette Jackson. Those of us who meet death with even a fraction of the courage and dignity with which Mrs. Jackson met hers will have done all that can be asked of any human being, and more.

Go here to donate to the Katrina relief effort.

by Richard Poe
September 4, 2005 01:09 PM ET

Cross-posted from 09.04.05


22 Responses to “OUR DUTY TO KATRINA’S DEAD: The Storm Left Many Victims, But Made Many Heroes”


Check out what others are saying about this post...
  1. Mark says:

    Thank you, Richard.

    With tears in my eyes and a heavy heart, I hope and pray for everyone who has been affected by this tragedy, and for all of the people who are doing everything to help.

  2. bethtopaz says:

    This is an excellent post.

    There are so many stories of heroism and generosity. And I agree – let’s focus on those.

    And you must know about the the teenage boy, Jabbal, who ran to a parking lot where school buses were parked, found a key and searched all the buses till he found one that would work.

    He drove the bus (he had never driven a bus before – looked like he was around 15). He drove and as he drove, stopped and picked up people (old, young, children, mothers with babies) — 80 in all.

    He drove the bus to Houston from New Orleans in 8 hours. He drove very slow. Everyone on the bus chipped in to buy gasoline. He told the people on the bus, “I love you.”

    Amazing story. It was on Fox News yesterday. He was being interviewed by Greta.

    There’s a business owner in Sacramento (Folsom), Mr. Gold, who is closing his business down for two weeks so he can take donations of money and supplies and then he’s driving them down to the Gulf in a caravan.

    The whole country is coming forward, opening their hearts and pocketbooks and their arms and donating, volunteering. Doctors and nurses are driving down to the Gulf to volunteer. At one time there were four doctors for every patient. (I believe this was in Houston.)

    The stories abound.

    Just like Rush Limbaugh said Thursday: What you’ll see is that the real heroes of this disaster are ordinary Americans helping ordinary Americans.

  3. Richard Poe says:

    Dear bethtopaz:

    Thanks for sharing the story of Jabbar Gibson. Unbelievably, Rick Casey of the Houston Chronicle managed to put an anti-Bush spin on that story. He wrote:

    Sept. 1, 2005, 10:29 PM

    My hero is a bus thief

    Houston Chronicle

    When I heard President Bush on Thursday morning call for “zero tolerance of people breaking the law during an emergency such as this,” it gave me shivers.

    I know he wanted to send a tough message to thugs stealing guns, drugs and flat-panel televisions, holding up hospitals, shooting at helicopters.

    But doesn’t he realize he would be heard by the moral equivalent of school administrators?

    These are people who suspend girls for bringing Midol in their purses or butter knives in their lunchboxes.

    What would they do to a kid who steals a bus?

    When he arrived at the Astrodome about 10 p.m. Wednesday, 20-year-old Jabbar Gibson modestly confessed that he had commandeered a school bus in New Orleans, then picked up about 70 passengers before heading out for the 13-hour trek to Houston.

    Stealing a bus is a felony. continue…

    I guess you can put an anti-Bush spin on just about anything, if that’s your chief priority in life. Disgraceful.


  4. djb says:

    Beautiful post, Bethtopaz. That is the real USA, people helping people, NOT people waiting for the government to take some action.

  5. Mr. Beamish says:

    It can’t be true. There is no way Jabbar Gibson stole a New Orleans school bus because as soon as NO Mayor Nagin got the word that a Category 5 hurricane was heading his way, he commandeered every mass transit vehicle he could to evacuate people out of the city.

    Oh, yeah. I forgot.

  6. bethtopaz says:

    Thanks for the heads-up, Richard Poe. I just read his article and e-mailed him:

    Dear Mr. Casey,

    I read your article – here’s an excerpt:

    “What would they do to a kid who steals a bus?

    “When he arrived at the Astrodome about 10 p.m. Wednesday, 20-year-old Jabbar Gibson modestly confessed that he had commandeered a school bus in New Orleans, then picked up about 70 passengers before heading out for the 13-hour trek to Houston.

    “Stealing a bus is a felony.

    “It’s also an act of heroism.”

    First of all – there were 80 passengers and it took him 8 hours to drive the bus because he drove very slowly. I don’t know about his age, but the other two facts I heard from Jabbal’s own mouth as he was interviewed by Greta on Fox News and celebrated as a hero.

    How you can put a bash-Bush spin on this is beyond me, except that the liberals hatred for our President can make make a Bush-Bashing opportunity out of almost anything.

    I sincerely doubt that President Bush was referring to acts of heroism such as this. Grow up!

    Beth Barnat
    Winters, CA

  7. bethtopaz says:

    If you can’t find Rick Moran’s article on Free Republic, try his blog.

  8. Mark says:

    Thank you, Beth, for the outstanding find of the “timeline”!

    I am sending it to as many people as I can!

    You’re efforts are nothing short of outstanding!

  9. mlotus says:

    I just wanted to point out that Kathleen Blanco credits George W. Bush with urging her to issue a mandatory evacuation order.

    I know this will be hard for the blame Bush crowd to countenance, but imagine for a second if Bush had been unable to persuade the governor and no such order had been issued.

    The devastation would be multiplied. So, in our search for heroes of this mess, dubya is #1 with a bullet.

  10. bethtopaz says:

    Thanks! I still don’t know how to link an article so I can say “A Timeline found *here* and would love to know how. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    And I post with some guilt since I’m supposed to be studying for my Property & Casualty test this next Wednesday – so I can get my license. But all this is SO MUCH more interesting!

  11. Mark says:


    Just think of it as being part of the “Truth Patrol”.

    YOU GO GIRL!!!!!

    : )

  12. bethtopaz says:

    Mark: Yes, sir! Hey, all kidding aside, we are the Truth Patrol and the way I figure it, if we just spread the real truth (seems unnecessary to say that, but there’s a lot of unreal “truth” going around these days) to 2-3 people a day, and they spread it to another 2-3 people, etc. – kinda like the “Pay It Forward” movie, before you know it, we’ve reached a lot of people.

    What I’m finding is that with a few solid facts the libs are usually struck down dumb. Reminds me of David & Goliath. David had a few little stones and God behind him – and he slew the giant, Goliath.

    The truth is like those little stones.

  13. peedoffamerican says:

    The easiest way to link to the article is to open up the webpage, open up theis webpage, go to the page you want to link to and right click in the address area of your browser and click copy. Come back to this webpage (moonbat) and right click in the reply area and clik paste. Hit your enter button on keyboard and this makes the link active. Leave your reply to go along with it and click submit comment. If you prefer you can also do it using ms word program and embedding the link, the help menu will tell you how for this method.

  14. peedoffamerican says:

    Example using this webpage:

  15. bethtopaz says:

    Thanks, Peedoffamerican – I will try it out – and let you know of my success!

  16. Cato_Maior says:

    N.O.P.D.: Protecting and serving if a force ever did. Go here.

  17. Rightminded says:


    I completed this after PO’ed was kind enough to respond. I spent to much time on it and just could not delete it. Hopefully I am not confusing the matter.

    Internet HyperText Link

    Go to the fifth title down entitled Internet HyperText Link Link to another Internet Site, specified by URL, and click on lesson 8c!

    Look at the fifth tile before you even go to the lesson:

    Simply replace the letters URL, with the address of the link you desire your readers to link to. Make sure you remove URL, and make sure the ” are before and after the address of your link.

    Replace the word hypertext with the tile of your choice. Name your link whatever you want. Make sure you remove the word hypertext.



  18. Cato_Maior says:

    If it looks, sounds, and acts like a moonbat…

    “Amid the tragedy, about two dozen people gathered in the French Quarter for the Decadence Parade, an annual Labor Day gay celebration. Matt Menold, 23, a street musician wearing a sombrero and a guitar slung over his back, said: “It’s New Orleans, man. We’re going to celebrate.”

    … it’s a moonbat.

  19. Rightminded says:

    Hey, all you page spreader—outers!!!

    Enough with forcing us bifocalists to the front row of the drive-in theater.


  20. bethtopaz says:

    Thanks Rightminded. You guys are great! And I don’t know what’s going on with the text going off into the right of the page.

    I’m going to check that link out and try it till I get it right. There’s still a lot of acronyms, like URL, etc. that I don’t know the definitions to. (I know, my mom told me to never use a hanging preposition :))

  21. Richard Poe says:

    bethtopaz writes: “I don’t know what’s going on with the text going off into the right of the page.”

    Dear bethtopaz:

    Let me explain. The overflow of text past the right margin is caused by posting URLs which are too long to fit on the page.

    When you post a long string of characters, all stuck together with no spaces breaking them up (such as a very long URL), our blog program cannot break up the string by splitting it into separate lines of text.

    As a result, the only way to accomodate such a long word-string is for the entire page to get wider – which is what we are currently seeing on this page.

    I will fix the problem now by embedding these long URLs into the text. But before I do, here’s an official request from MBC management (that’s me):


    THANK YOU! 😀

  22. Cato_Maior says:

    Got it. Will take the tutorial. Thanks.

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