James Pierce died keeping a promise.
"He promised his mother that the cats would be safe," said Pierce's friend Roy Hutcherson.
Pierce, 30, lived with his mother in the Back Bay Place apartments at Oak Street and Bay View.
As Katrina was approaching, his mother evacuated to a shelter, and Pierce stayed behind to take care of the three cats.
Never miss a local story.
That's the kind of guy Pierce was. He was committed to taking care of his mother after his father died in 2004, and he was a man of his word.
He also liked computers and was willing to help other people out.
When Katrina hit, no one in the apartment complex was prepared for the rise of the water. Pierce grabbed the three cats.
"He got into the rescue boat and one got away," Hutcherson said. "He got out to go get the cat and the surge of water washed him away."
Hutcherson said he and his other buddy, Robert Thompson, miss Pierce.
"I miss his loyalty, his friendship," Hutcherson said. "He would help anyone that he could, and I miss his computer skills."