Some East Texas game wardens just returned from New Orleans. They spent a week rescuing people from the flood torn city. Nacogdoches Game Warden Ken Jackson was there. "It's the very biggest mess I've ever seen. I've been to a lot of disasters and floods. I've never seen anything like this."
Jackson's photographs depict a rescuer's experience. He saw neighbors helping neighbors, even after death. "They took to tying them [corpses] to street signs to be where they're easier to find." Jackson also experienced the filth. "We would see water. It would kinda bubble up and when it hit the top of the surface it would sparkle like a sparkler," described the game warden of over 20 years.
The images come from primarily one neighborhood where Jackson rescued so many. Jackson said emotions reached their limit for one longtime resident. "We started to back away from his house in the boat and he just started crying."
All the images were preserved in photographs that Jackson took during the rescue mission. One snapshot of a turquoise two story home led to a closer connection to the people he served. A randomly selected couple living at the Nacogdoches Red Cross Shelter was asked if they wanted to visit with Jackson and view the photographs from the home town. Giselle Ishman immediately began naming off streets in the pictures. "St. Bernard and Broad, I'm right down the street from there."
Ishman and her fiancé Robert Nix were familiar with the neighborhood Jackson patrolled, extremely familiar. As Ishman viewed a stack of pictures she surprisingly said, "This is my mother's house. This is it. This is where we were. This is the house we were in!"
It's the very house where the two rode out the hurricane and stayed for five miserable days. Jackson photographed the house because he thought it was pretty never dreaming a happenstance would let him meet the people who lived there.
Nix struck up a conversation. "How did you like our messed up city, man? Pretty terrible, huh?" All Jackson could do was be truthful. He responded, "pretty terrible".