18 months after Rita, coffins still missing

18 months after the Afghanistan of the 2005 storms, some people still do not know the location of their loved ones that were displaced by Hurricane Rita. I posted on coffins across the gulf coast that got washed away on October 14th, 2005.

Associated Press writer, Doug Simpson, gives yet another example of the awesome power that comes with hurricanes. For people that have never had to go through a hurricane, their only link to what happens, is what they are able to see in the media or what is relayed through people that live in those zones of destruction. For Hurricane Rita, the MSM concentrated on the category of the hurricane, the wind speed, location of the landing, and hypothetical questions of what might happen if this or that were to happen.

A universal sigh of fake relief came from the MSM, as the storm reduced in wind speed. They talked about how much worse it could have been and a lot of people were spared. After the storm passed, the vultures started circling to get the film of the destruction that was complete in some areas, to the apparent joy of the MSM.

Rita was not a category 3 hurricane when it pushed a storm surge into southeast LA, but wind is not the only part of a storm like Rita. Water is a force that is not to be taken lightly. This story shows that not being in the zone of the highest winds, does not necessarily exclude you from destruction. In Terrebonne Parish this same scene was played out by the storm surge, whole crypts were lifted up and moved by the power of water.

The link to the story I quoted, does not work anymore, but here is what I quoted from the story then.

First the flood waters dislodged massive burial vaults from the earth. Then the vaults yawned open, and out floated hundreds of coffins. And when the coffins opened, their contents drifted away, too.

Along with the despair they brought to the living, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita also evicted the dead from what were supposed to be their final resting places, scattering skeletal remains across the region in a ghastly spectacle.

Now forensic anthropologists are busy trying to identify the remains and return them to their graves, some of which date to the 19th century.

In all, the state health department said it has learned of about 1,000 coffins dislodged by the storms, not all of them found yet.

Every parish along Louisiana’s coast has reported burial vaults picked up and moved by storm waters, either after Katrina hit Aug. 29, or after Rita struck on Sept. 24, Cataldie said.

In Louisa, a remote community near the Gulf Coast, small St. Helen’s Cemetery was among the hardest hit: About 60 tombs were pulled from their plots, Sheriff David Naquin said. About a dozen blocked a highway before they were moved by sheriff’s deputies.

“It’s like putting a jigsaw puzzle together,” Naquin said. “We still have some pieces missing.”

Hurricane Rita brought a powerful storm surge of up to 9 feet to Louisiana, forcing vaults out of the ground and pulling their lids. Naquin said several vaults weighing an estimated 600 pounds were found nearly a half-mile from St. Helen’s Cemetery.

The remains are being analyzed at the same morgue set up in the town of St. Gabriel to handle the corpses of the more than 1,000 people killed by Katrina.

The anthropologists are looking for such things as identifying pieces of jewelry and are also taking X-rays, examining the teeth and extracting DNA in hopes of putting names on the dead.

After all these months, AmericanPress.com brings us this horrible story of those that still have not found their loved ones. The horrors of both Katrina and Rita will haunt this state for a very long time, as the continued fight to survive goes on. The state of Louisiana was demolished by two horrible storms within one month. After all the lip service from the Bush administration to do better for the next storm, people could seek no help from the Red Cross after Rita, because President Bush still had not declared it a federal disaster area for three days after! First Katrina, then Rita. Broken trust and broken promises from a broken administration.

Howard and Doris Taliaferro are frustrated that after 18 months, the bodies of their loved ones have still not been recovered after Hurricane Rita washed their coffins away from their Cameron Parish graves.

Doris’ daughter, Tammy, and first husband, Willie, were in their final resting places in St. Eugene Cemetery in Grand Chenier. When Rita hit, the Taliaferros, who live in Chandler, Texas, contacted FEMA to describe the coffins, items that had been placed in the coffins and their deceased family members’ clothing. Tammy wore a cowgirl outfit and was buried with spurs; Willie wore a gray suit.

Their descriptions didn’t fit the approximately 320 bodies that were recovered and identified. Federal government money funded an active search until March 2006, when the funding stopped, and the Taliaferros became very upset.

“We just want to find them,” Howard said. “We want to know where the heck our people are.”

The couple then heard news that some bodies had been buried that could not be identified. They feared their loved ones were in that group, but they’d never know.

“We think there’s something wrong, but we can’t put our finger on it,” Howard said. “We can’t get answers.”

That “something wrong” might have something to do with this paragraph in the article.

According to Zeb Johnson of Johnson Funeral Home in Lake Charles, the government-paid search ended because it became harder and harder to find bodies — sometimes, two weeks would go by without a coffin turning up. Plus, the searches cost between $6,000 and $8,000 a day. All but 35 to 40 of the lost coffins from Cameron Parish were found, Johnson said, and out of those that were found, close to 80 percent of the dead were identified.

That’s right, it cost too much to continue the government paid search for the remains of our ancestors. Those self proclaimed Christians and upholders of family values, put a price tag on the christian burials of our ancestors! If that is not enough to get someone angered, Katrina and Rita victims have “Unnamed Republican Senators” blocking Stafford Act Waiver. Sinn Fein indeed!

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2 Responses to 18 months after Rita, coffins still missing

  1. Donnie

    This isn’t good at all. More of the never ending BushCo BS.

  2. We are truly on our own here. Forgotten and forsaken.