Slidell man who stayed, recorded Katrina says never again - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

Slidell man who stayed, recorded Katrina says never again

Ten years ago, the 65-year-old didn't believe the dire forecasts of a catastrophic hurricane hitting his home at the edge of Lake Pontchartrain. (Source: Flickr Commons) Ten years ago, the 65-year-old didn't believe the dire forecasts of a catastrophic hurricane hitting his home at the edge of Lake Pontchartrain. (Source: Flickr Commons)
SLIDELL, LA (WVUE) -

Emergency planners know that there will always be some people who refuse to evacuate for a hurricane.  Slidell resident Kennard Jackley was one of those who stayed in his lakefront home and videotaped Hurricane Katrina as she roared ashore. And a decade later, he reflects on that experience, and what he would do if there is ever another “big one.”

Ten years ago, 65-year-old Jackley didn't believe the dire forecasts of a catastrophic hurricane hitting his home at the edge of Lake Pontchartrain.  But just in case, he videotaped all of his belongings for insurance purposes.

“I've got sandbags right there, ready to sandbag up,” Jackley recalled.

The retired Merchant Seaman had weathered other storms at his Carr Drive home. 

Thirty years at sea you see a lot of different stuff,” he said. “You know, I was in typhoons, and so I didn't figure a hurricane would be too much, you know.”

Jackley and "miss kitty" stayed put, while his wife evacuated to Dallas.

“She gave me an axe so I could punch a hole through the roof,” Jackley said.

He ignored the warnings, not believing it would get that bad. Then he turned on his video camera to record what was about to unfold.

“We're about an hour into this thing,” he said. “The water hasn't come up so bad. Whooo, here it comes again. I’m getting back inside. I've got white caps in my back yard.”

“There was a row of houses between Jackley's back porch and the lake.  His front door faced the marsh.

“Mother Nature's a mad mammy jammer,” he said.

Katrina howled. Pine trees snapped. Waves and water rose at an alarming rate.

“The whole downstairs is under water. My truck's right down there someplace under water,” Jackley said.

The wind was relentless.

“Here it comes, it's in the house,” he said. “Broke the door lock. There it is. I've got another 3 or 4 feet, and then I'm going to have to head for the roof.”

Then the unthinkable happened. Neighbors' homes crumbled, and one by one, they floated by Jackley's backyard. Waves crashed against the second floor door.

“Next time leave, stupid” Jackley said. “I don't even think Ii saved my golf clubs. All Ii can do is sit and watch it come in now. I was thinking about putting the movie in a bag and throwing it over the side, you know, maybe somebody would find it, you know.

Hours would pass before the water started its slow fall. Several days later, Jackley got a passing wildlife and fisheries agent to phone his wife and tell her he was alive. And next time, if forecasters predict a storm like Katrina, Jackley says he won't stay.

“I'd have to hit the road,” he said. “I hate to drive all the way to Dallas with the wife, but I'd have to do it.”

The proof is in the videotape.  A hurricane that lived up to the forecasts and washed away homes. And there was nothing a man could do, but watch and hope he survived.
 

Copyright 2015 WVUE. All rights reserved.

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