Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Ackers: Katrina Survivors

Angel Acker, 40, Pearlington. Flooded out of her home.

We must have met half a dozen Ackers in Pearlington in the days after the storm hit. I would photograph people and then get their names, and it seemed like every fifth name was Acker. A few weeks later I stumbled upon an article online, and realized that the Ackers even had a version of me in their family, Leo Acker...

Like me, he had moved to the North to pursue opportunity. Like me, he had gone down to help his people, and bring them out of the disaster. Unlike me, he brought a friggin' truckload of supplies with him, and then got seventeen of his fellow Ackers out. I, on the other hand, brought a measly trunk load of supplies, and took some snapshots around town. I'm basically a pale (literally) imitation of Leo Acker.
"Unloading the supplies took an hour and a half with help from thirty volunteers. Convincing his family to come with him to Massachusetts and making arrangements to fly them all there, took much longer, but now, seventeen members of the Acker family have flown into the area, their airfare paid by Leo Acker, his wife, and his uncle's business. The truck he used was donated by Penske, after the company heard how he intended to use it. His family is currently staying at Anchorage Housing in Middletown, Rhode Island.

Mr. Acker moved to the area from the family's home in Pearlington, Mississippi to pursue at degree in engineering at U-Mass Dartmouth. He currently resides in Swansea, and is employed at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Middletown, Rhode Island. Hearing of the damage done by Hurricane Katrina convinced him that he had to head back to his former home and help his family escape the devastated area." Continue...


Crack Head said...

So, when you write your book, (and you better!) I want the first copy! All of your posts along with the rest of the photos you took should be compiled into a book. That is, once things slow down enough that you have the time, because all of your readers know you have the material....and I am sure they want a copy!

A photo book with interviews/stories of all the people you met would most definately wake people up and hopefully educate people for future events such as this. It would let them know what to prepare for and how we can all do our part to shows us our greatst strengths and weaknesses and how we can learn from it.

I don't think there is one person who reads you blog who can say they haven't learned something from it. It's like the best education you could never pay for....


Reading your blog reminds me of things from my past, how I never want to forget the good times I have had with friends and family, how small things seem to get so big between all of us, yet when faced with reality, those things seem petty when compared to the loss of one another.

To coin the phrase "reach out and touch someone" I think a lot of people have phoned old friends and family in recent weeks, and with Katrina now behind us, I hope we all stay in touch...

"Up and down that road in our worn out shoes, Talkin' 'bout good things and signin' the blues,
You went your way....I stayed behind" -Stevie Ray Vaughan

That's how it happens....Livin life by the drop

the duchess said...

okay clayton, after reading your postings since the beginning, i have a few things to say...i'm the momma of a 33 year-old man so i know what i'm talking about.

the love and devotion you have and so boldly show for your momma speaks volumes about the type person she is. she may have had hard times and she may not have always made the right decisions, but, boy, she's sure been doing something right since the day you were born.

which brings us to'll be famous someday. your photography and your writing are incredible. you have a natural talent that amazes and mesmerizes me. i will always be following you and keeping an eye on you so i can say, "i told him he'd be famous someday!"

and way back on september 1, you wrote a haunting sentence that i haven't been able to stop thinking about..."the hardest thing you can ask a white trash boy to do is sit still while his momma's missing."

it's all so true except the "trash"...i don't want to hear that again. you are not trash...trash don't work like you do and trash don't love like you do. get that out of your mind. and don't think of yourself as a "high school dropout." the school system in this country is not the only barometer of a child's worth. there are many more facets of a child that can't be measured in a classroom...and honey, you have them.

i'm so happy your mother and brother are situated in a darling little place to live. god bless those generous folks in north carolina.

take care, clayton, i'm gonna be watching you go places!

Anonymous said...

I can't say it any better than "duchess" just did. Yesterday's post and this site address have been delivered to the Governor & Mrs. Barbour. I hope some good comes from it.

j. said...

I'd also add that you shouldn't hold your own good deeds up to Leo's as a form of measurement. He obviously had many more Ackers to save than you had Cubitts, and your concern obviously stretches well beyond your own family.

It's been hard for me personally not to criticize my own actions towards helping my mom (in new orleans) as compared to what you've done, but i have to take into account that her situation is not as dire as your moms' (and brothers'). We all have to react relative to our own situations, and your actions have been extremely admirable.

It's nice to hear the story, now, of Leo Acker, and to know that there are other people out there like you putting their all into helping their own. Perhaps as you find more people like Leo you can work their stories into your book too. ;)

click here to see hurricane pics said...

We all did what we could. If we all help a little it will add up to a lot.

Check out my web site to learn how you can help.

clk said...

i found your site via and i am so grateful i have. your work is thought provoking - simultaneuouly providing a sense of devastation and hope.
you have a beautiful soul. many, many thank yous for sharing your talent. May light continue to shine on you and the victims of Katrina.

Brandi said...

I've been reading your blog for some time now...You have made me see what I hadn't before and have made many other aware of what is happening in places where we are not. You, your family, your writing, your pictures amaze me. You are an inspiration, don't stop posting. God Bless.

reilly said...

great read and excellent photos.

i kept a blog from a relatively safer spot in gulfport. google reiblog.

keep yours up. i think its among the best i've seen.


Anonymous said...

I e-mailed you a while back privately to say thanks for what you're doing. But today, I want to do it publicly. Why? My sister.

She means well, but falls for chain-emails. She recently sent me the "George Carlin on New Orleans Rant" e-mail. I immediately called bullshit. And sure enough, it was bullshit. (See truthorfiction link below.)

What does this have to do with you? I sent this reponse to the WHOLE CC list in the e-mail.

First off. George Carlin DID NOT write this.

Here's the truth:

For an accurate portrayal about what is STILL going on in New Orleans, and how these people didn't "get out" when they should, see this amazing report:

Amazing stuff there. I've e-mailed with this photographer already and his family is in ruins. He usually shoots fashion in New York. He had just bought his mother a house in New Orleans. It's gone now. My good friend [name removed for privacy], another professional photographer in Los Angeles, just told me her parents in New Orleans are refugees and are going to live with her in her house. Their home was destroyed.

Remember people... it could happen to ANY of us. Just count your lucky stars it's NOT you. Then, after you've pondered the loss these people have gone through, do the "right" thing and help out where you can with money, volunteer-time or just simple understanding that bad things happen to good people. ("Book of Job" for those of you with a Bible handy.)

So thank you Clayton. Thank you for giving me a link to send to friends, family and CC lists on chain e-mails to illustrate what's REALLY happening down South, on a human level. That's what your work does. It's the power of the still image and I am glad you are using it for an important cause.

You are making a difference.

william anthony
seattle, wa

...e... said...

a few snapshots?????

you're kidding, rite?

what the duchess said. keep snapping.