Livingston Parish Council expected to vote on new burial regulations

Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB

DENHAM SPRINGS, LA (WAFB) - It's safe to say more than half of the Denham Springs population was affected by the record flooding in August, but what some are dealing with, in addition to flood repairs, is burying a loved one for the second time.

"Every time we have flooding, we have to do reinternment, nothing like this, and it's been a nightmare," said director Mark Harrell with the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

The Plainview Cemetery in Denham Springs is currently undergoing renovations. Graves where loved ones once laid are filled with water or vaults sit open, examples of the power of the rushing water. "Concrete floats and that's what happened. They've come up and floated off. A lot of them were in the woods behind us," said Harrell.

He added the man hours being devoted from local and federal government agencies to return all the bodies to their resting placing is astounding.

"We had almost 300 caskets float in this storm," Harrell explained.

Many of the caskets displaced came from vaults which sit 6 to 10 inches above the ground, a practice particular to parts of Louisiana.

"Think it's more of a cultural thing and personal preference," said Shelly Roy with Roselawn Monuments.

However, the era of floating caskets in Livingston Parish could soon come to an end if an ordinance introduced last week passes. The new ordinance would eliminate above ground burying, giving only two burial options in Livingston Parish, either completely underground or in a mausoleum.

Livingston Parish President Layton Ricks explains the proposed new regulations were discussed with local funeral directors before it was introduced.

"The top of the casket has to be 24 inches below the surface of the ground," Ricks said. "If you bury them in a vault, the top of the vault has to be 18 inches below the ground."

Livingston Parish officials said this new ordinance is to help the families of the deceased and prevent them from having to face another funeral.

"It's sad enough for them to be going through their home, losing their home and all the contents and all these things they go through and then to find out a loved one has floated up, it really makes it hard," Ricks added.

The Livingston Parish Council is expected to vote on the ordinance in a couple of weeks.

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