DENHAM SPRINGS, LA (WAFB) - Healing can now begin for those with loved ones buried in the Denham Springs Memorial Cemetery. Reburials are now being done at the cemetery which was damaged in the August flood.
The sacred burial grounds have not been the same since August 12, when an angry current ripped through the city disrupting the resting places of the peaceful souls who lay there.
Denham Springs Mayor Gerard Landry said 19 caskets were dislodged and 30 or more monuments shifted during the flood.
"To look at some of these 3,500-pound concrete vaults, and look at what the water did to them," Landry said.
Landry said the ones that have not been identified have been set aside. To date, there are at least six.
Susan Harris was one of the families desperately looking for help after she noticed her mother-in-law's memorial in shambles.
"When I passed by, we could see the headstone, but we could not see rest. It was lifted off the vault," Harris said.
Harris is now helping others reconnect with their loved ones as the city begins the challenging process of re-interring the remains of those who were displaced by the flood.
Small pink flags mark the gravesites that were damaged during the August flood. In the Denham Springs Memorial Cemetery, there are more than 100.
"Not only are we putting caskets back, we're also putting monuments in place, vases in places, some leaning monuments, sunken graves," said Billy Seale, an owner of Seale Funeral Home which is doing the work.
Seale said every plot presents a different set of circumstances. As he and his crew worked to make repairs to one of the gravesites, they discovered the vault was empty.
"To see a casket not in here, I've never seen anything like it. It's devastating," Seale said.
Seale said those are cleaned out and sealed until the families are able to identify the proper casket.
Landry said he has made it a priority to restore the grounds and bring peace to those who have been shaken by the wild act of nature.
"This is their loved ones. This is a memorial. This is where their family members are resting, and that's what it should be," Landry said.
Seale estimates the grounds will be restored by the end of the year. The remains that are not claimed by then will be handed over to the LSU FACES Lab for identification.
People can report if a gravesite has been disturbed to City Hall by calling 665-8121.
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- Ascension Parish moves forward with reinterment post-flooding
- FEMA offering assistance to fix gravesites at flooded cemeteries
- 'I'm going to have to bury him again;' gravesites affected by floodwater