Tuesday, December 06, 2005

More Bodies Found in NOLA

In previous posts I've written about bodies still being found in NOLA particularly the 9th Ward. The search for bodies ended Oct 3 though many homes were never searched. The lower 9th was opened Dec. 1 for "look and leaves" and as predicted more bodies are still being found.
The Times-Picayune reports "police continue to field calls from people returning home or to the homes of family members who discover the bodies of loved ones, forgotten or missed by search and rescue or recovery teams." An elderly couple was found in their Gentilly home. On Sunday the body of an 83 year old man was found by his family in the 9th ward in front of his home.
(Officer) Barnes said he was not sure if the house had been searched by authorities before relatives went to the home Sunday. Police said while the New Orleans Police Department assisted in the search for the dead or for those who survived the storm, it was not their primary duty. The responsibility for kicking down doors and smashing through windows looking for signs of life or death was with military forces, such as the National Guard and a federal contractor.

I can't imagine the horror of finding a loved one like this. It is particularly enraging since comprehensive searches could have spared people of this horror. But they were not done. A small number of NOLA firefighters continued searching after Oct. 3 but officials by and large just forgot about the dead. And again we see the confusion over who is responsible. Is it...local, state, federal, private contractor???? This has not been answered.
I don't know what the disgraced Kenyon International, the contractor hired initially by FEMA then the state, is getting paid for. They certainly haven't done their job. As macbre as this whole aspect of disaster planning may be it is one that needs to be fully investigated because it is quite clear that responsibility for body recovery in disasters is very murky yet. Since this is getting little if any attention I doubt it will be resolved by the next disaster. I just hope next time it isn't your loved one left to rot for months in their front yard but it will be somebody's if nothing is done.
Call your Representative. Demand either FEMA be required to be responsible for body recovery in disasters or inform each state in writing that it will be their responsibility so they better start planning.

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