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News of the Day ... In Perspective


Morticians prepare for 40,000 bodies

As the waters begin to recede in New Orleans, the Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team (Dmort), a volunteer arm of the Department of Homeland Security, is telling officials to prepare for up to 40,000 bodies. The estimate does not include remains disinterred from mausoleums. Firefighters are finding many bodies in attics, where people were told to go, only to find they were trapped.

Dmort includes morticians, medical examiners, coroners, pathologists, anthropologists, odontologists, photographers, police, heavy-equipment operators, and numerous other specialists.

Bodies may be recovered for as long as 120 days (WorldNetDaily 9/6/05).

The first estimate of economic losses from Hurricane Katrina was placed at $100 billion, of which less than a quarter would be covered by insurance. Losses are expected to exceed those of Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and the those caused by four large hurricanes in South Florida last year.

Risk Management Solutions estimated that the flood in New Orleans had inundated 150,000 properties, making it the largest flood in U.S. history. The most recent flood of similar proportions occurred in the Netherlands in 1953, submerging 47,000 properties and killing 1,800 people. The Netherlands flood was also caused by a storm that overwhelmed barriers protecting a city built below sea level. It took 6 months to pump the community dry (NY Times 9/3/05).

Additional information:

Parallels between New Orleans and the Johnstown flood in 1899, by Craig Cantoni

"Civil Defense Debacle" - Civil Defense Perspectives, Sept. 2005

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