Source of iconic Katrina photo?

There’s a photo of a man rescuing two cats in the aftermath of Katrina (or another flood, but I’m 99% sure it’s Katrina) that’s become iconic: Wading through almost hip-deep water, a blond man clutches two horrified orange cats to his chest. In the background another man is carrying an armload of possessions.

Over the years since Katrina I’ve seen that image often; currently it’s garnering various captions at ICanHasCheezburger, as it has in the past – in fact, as of today it has been captioned on that site alone 365 times.

Looking at it today, I wondered whether anywhere on the Web there’s the backstory to that photo – when and where exactly was it taken? Who is the man, and what became of him? Of the cats? Were those his cats, or was he a Good Samaritan?

Does anyone know?

Harry Baumert from The Des Moines Register taken during a 2008 flood in Iowa… I think.

I searched it on, an image search site and, other than the cheezburger sites, the only serious site was, but that link gives a “not found” error.

Out of dumb luck, I accidentally clicked a cheezburger site which had this below the photo: “picture: Harry Baumert, The Register.” A quick google to confirm he worked for the register hinted that he had a great cat photo at #70 here, but the image navigator isn’t working for me.

My friend (another photojournalist) has a similar photo of the exact same scene from a slightly different angle. According to the caption info I can pull up, it was taken June 12, 2008, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The name of the person holding the cats is Brandon Smith, and the cats are Fry and Bender. I don’t know where they are now, but looking at the sequence of photos, it looks like they got out fine.

It is indeed #70 (although #73 is of the same scene and has the cat-rescuer looking a bit more poisedly heroic, I think). Caption: “Brandon Smith, 23, carries Bender, right and Fry, his fiance’s cats, to safety Thursday morning in southwest Cedar Rapids. His neighbor, Tyrone Pierce, 49, follows.”

(Also… they spelt “fiance” with just one ‘e’. Typo? Or more hard-hitting revelations you can only get from me? :))

If you want to see a couple more pictures of the scene:

Image 1
Image 2
Image 3 (uncooperative cat)

Cool! Thanks, all! I especially liked the one of the cat jumping ship. One hopes poor Brandon managed to retrieve the mutineer without too much claw-shredding damage.

And thanks especially, Fubaya, for introducing me to such an amazingly useful site.

I regret nothing! /uncooperative cat

Until today, I had not seen that picture. How is that an iconic picture of the Katrina hurricane? It’s not even from the hurricane.

There’s no way it is more iconic than this one:

Invisible jetski!