Progress in battle to ID lost graves in Plaquemines Parish - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Progress in battle to ID lost graves in Plaquemines Parish

Updated:
Scarsdale, La. -

It was one of the more morbid aspects of the damage done by Hurricane Isaac -- dozens of caskets in Plaquemines Parish left lying on levees, roads, and farmland after being washed away from cemeteries.

Netiokee Hill thought three generations of her family would remain at Promised Land Cemetery for centuries.  But after Isaac, things were different.

Hill said, "When I came down here, I didn't see nothing. My great grandfather's plaque... I didn't see nothing."

The hurricane scattered scores of bodies across the parish.  Commander Eric Becnel with the Plaquemines Parish Sheriff's Office said, "We had 194 bodies that were recovered and we identified 134."

Among the missing were the remains of Hill's mother, grandmother, and great-grandfather. "I felt heartbroken, like I relived my mother's passing all over again," said Hill.

Now, thanks to painstaking work by the LSU Forensic Center, FEMA, and the Sheriff's Office, Hill has some peace of mind. The remains of her mother, grandmother, and great grandfather, have now been located and are back at the Promised Land Cemetery.

Hill said, "Words can't explain, I was so happy."

Officials have now identified about two-thirds of the remains that were carried away in the flood.

On the east bank of Plaquemines Parish, 60 bodies remain unidentified, but the Sheriff's Office promises to keep working to identify as many more as possible. "Efforts are ongoing.  We need to reach out to the public if they can come forward and provide us with any information," said Becnel.

The Sheriff's Office has placed anchored metal bands around the recovered graves, to keep future floods from carrying them away again.

Hill hopes that from now on, through hurricanes and high water, the Promised Land Cemetery will remain the final resting place for her family

If you can help identify the remaining bodies with photos or any kind of dental records, give the Sheriff's Office a call at 504-564-2525.

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