ASCENSION PARISH, LA (WAFB) - Graves disturbed by floods in Ascension Parish are causing a lot of confusion.
Caskets are popping up near highways and showing up at funeral homes. Now, officials are scrambling to identify them.
St. Amant Fire Chief James LeBlanc was in disbelief as he surveyed a flood-damaged cemetery in Ascension Parish. The tombs are out of place. The lids on some are gone. The resting places of so many still show signs of the water that wrecked the burial grounds.
"I've never seen so many caskets, loved ones that were just flowing down the highway. I never ever dreamed that we would go through that in this flood," LeBlanc said.
Pictures taken by LeBlanc show what he and his volunteer firemen did to help prevent what could have been a heartbreaking experience for so many families. He and his men waded through chest-deep water to retrieve caskets and tie them down near the cemetery where they belonged.
"We even had caskets that came from Livingston Parish to Ascension," LeBlanc said.
A month later, LeBlanc and parish leaders are trying to identify the displaced caskets so they can inter them in the correct spot. That, he said, has been a challenge.
"Let's not lose sight that this is just one cemetery out of six. Six cemeteries in the St. Amant community were affected by the flood," LeBlanc said.
The caskets that the volunteers recovered were brought to Church Funeral Services and Crematory in St. Amant. Funeral Director David Singletary said he has been able to contact some of the owners.
"We do have some that are identified. However, I do have probably 12 to 14 that are not identified," Singletary said.
Some will require a DNA sample. However, some are a unique color or have specific markings that make the process a lot easier.
"One lady told me, my daddy always wore blue dickies and I put a pouch of Redman chewing tobacco in his left pocket," Singletary said.
People who are still looking for their displaced deceased will be given an opportunity to go to the funeral home in the next 30 days to claim the casket.
"This is just one piece of the puzzle of what we been dealing with over the last 30 days in Ascension Parish," LeBlanc said.
They must then determine who will pay to reset the graves and return the dead to their resting place.
If you believe your loved one's tomb floated away in the flood, call the Ascension Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness at 621-8360.