A Year After Rita, Corpses Still Being Found - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

9/25/06

A Year After Rita, Corpses Still Being Found

CAMERON, Louisiana (AP) -- A year after Hurricane Rita, the grave at Ebenezer Baptist Cemetery sits empty, half-filled with stagnant water, its vault and casket yanked out of the ground and carried north by churning floodwater from the Gulf of Mexico.

Across southwest Louisiana, cemeteries still bear scars from Hurricane Rita like 6-foot rectangular holes in the soil. Hunters and farmers make grim calls to the coroner after stumbling across caskets miles away from the graves.

"We could be recovering caskets, from here on, for years," said Charlie Hunter, a coroner's investigator working in Cameron and Calcasieu parishes. "It's going to be a long process."

"In the marsh, duck hunters going to their duck blinds, they're still finding caskets," he said.

Hunter said his office has recovered 325 caskets and human remains the storm pulled up from the earth. One casket was found 34 miles from its grave, he said.

Of those recovered, 240 have been identified and returned to their graves.

Local funeral homes have started putting metal bracelets on the deceased, and attaching metal discs to vaults and caskets, stamped with the person's name.

That will make it easier to identify disinterred bodies when the next storm comes.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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