CommunityPam's House Blend

Up to 40,000 bodies

A cemetary is covered by floodwaters from Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. REUTERS/David J. Phillip/Pool

The number is staggering. The fact that this could include disinterred bodies from the above-ground mausoleums in New Orleans is sickening. How the city will ever be cleaned up, never mind inhabitable, is hard to imagine.

A co-owner of Shelbyville-based Gowen-Smith Chapel has been deployed to Gulfport, Miss., to help with recovery since Hurricane Katrina, and his business partner here has described the grim task there.

DMort is telling us to expect up to 40,000 bodies,” Dan Buckner said, quoting officials with the Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team, a volunteer arm of Homeland Security.

His partner, Dan Hicks, of Paducah, Ky., was deployed Monday. Buckner, of Dickson, is on standby. Their funeral home is one of several collection sites for donations to be taken to the Red Cross in Fayetteville on Wednesday for transfer to places in need.

The 40,000 estimate does “not include the number of disinterred remains that have been displaced from … mausoleums,” Buckner told the Times-Gazette Monday.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding