Group restores cemetery buried by Katrina, Isaac - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Group restores cemetery buried by Katrina, Isaac

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REGGIO, La. - You can barely see it from Bayou Road, and in the years after Hurricane Katrina, Reggio Baptist Cemetery all but disappeared.

Floodwaters 18 feet deep swept the church into the bayou, and a tangled mass of vines and trees took over the graves.

"There were so many memories there, so many friends and they were family," says Mindy Braniff. "We went to church with those people, and I haven't seem them since."

A group of friends who call themselves Team Cajun Invasion decided to clean up what Katrina, and later Isaac, left behind.

Braniff has family buried here.

"I kept thinking it's a dangerous situation," she says. "Then I realized one day that it can happen, with the right equipment, with the right tools, it could happen, and we just started doing it."

Braniff and a handful of other volunteers started the project last weekend, digging through the debris to unearth the loved ones below. The graves date back to the 1950s, and many of the headstones belong to children.

Volunteers don't know how exactly how many people are buried because the records were lost along with the church. They think there are at least 50 graves, and they've uncovered 22 of them.

As their work continues, Team Cajun Invasion members know they'll need more muscle. Braniff hopes someone will volunteer heavy equipment to help clear the areas around the graves. She also wants to put up signs so people can find the cemetery from road.

Maybe restoring Reggio Baptist Cemetery could bring back some of what the storms swept away.

"It is about bringing back memories, but not just for me," says Braniff. "There's other people that are here that would probably come visit their loved ones, that would probably feel comfortable coming here and having a place to grieve."

And a place where all those lost can finally be at peace.

For more information on Team Cajun Invasion, check out the group's Facebook page.

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