Katrina Heartbreak, One Year Later

Of the hundreds of tragic Hurricane Katrina stories, none was more heartbreaking than the story of Hardy Jackson.

Jackson, of Biloxi, Miss., was seen on national TV:

REPORTER: You can't find your wife?

JACKSON: No. She told me. She told me. I tried. I, 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 and my kids.

REPORTER: What's your wife's name in case we can put this out there.

JACKSON: Tonette Jackson.

REPORTER: OK. And what's your name?

JACKSON: Hardy Jackson.

REPORTER: Where are you guys going?

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

His tale of survival and loss touched millions of viewers across the country.

To escape the rising water, Jackson, his wife and child climbed to the roof of a house, but a 20-foot wave split the house in two.

Jackson clung to a tree and desperately held on to his wife, Tonette.

Knowing he could not swim, she told him to let her go. "She said, 'Let go. You can't hold me, and that wave," he said, unable to finish.

He watched as her body was washed away. Days later, his T-shirt still hung from the branches above.

Jackson, homeless and grief-stricken, had a promise to keep: to care for his kids and grandkids.

He picked up his family and left the devastated region hoping for a new start.

A year later, half a million residents have yet to return home, including Jackson.

He has kept his promise to his wife, however, caring for his kids and grandchildren in a new house in Atlanta. It was given to him by a generous donor.

"I'm trying my best to hold onto that promise, because that was the last word that came out of her mouth, you know, take care of the kids and grandkids. I'm trying my best, but it's very hard. Very hard," he said.

The few things he has left to remember of his wife of 28 years is a picture from her driver's license and their crumpled marriage certificate.

"It's in bad shape, but I am glad to have this," he said.

Like hundreds of others, Tonette Jackson's body has not been found.

Her husband hopes one day to hold a funeral for her, but for now he places flowers in the lot where their house in Biloxi once stood.

"She was everything. Best friend, oh, I love her more than I love life, really. … Miss her so much, hurts."

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