Not long ago, the Government reported that the official death toll from Katrina was around 1,300. An awful tragedy, to be sure, but not as bad as the 'several thousand' that had been feared early on.
Now, however, we are told that nearly five months after the disaster, 3,200 remain missing. Now, not all of them are dead, but it is very likely that some, in fact quite possibly most, of them are.
Dr. Louis Cataldie, the state's medical examiner, said he planned to ask state and parish officials to recheck about 400 addresses where authorities have consistent information about people missing from badly flooded neighborhoods. Most are in east New Orleans; about 50 are from St. Bernard Parish.
It's possible some of those missing were washed into Lake Pontchartrain, or their bodies remain in the rubble that still blankets much of the city. Over the last several weeks, at least one family returning to a wrecked home has found the remains of a relative inside.
Some of those still listed as missing likely have been found already by relatives but the center hasn't been notified of their status, the call center said. Others may not want to be found because of criminal or legal problems.
Here is my concern: Last September I blogged (Even Ghouls can get a no-bid Contract) about how a company called Kenyon International got a no bid contract to clean up human remains after Katrina. In the article, I wrote,
the no-bid contract for collecting, identifying and disposing of bodies from Hurricane Katrina has been outsourced to a firm, Kenyon Interntational, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Service Corporation International, SCI, a funeral company with a long and sad record of breaking the law to dispose of bodies, some in very disturbing ways.
I went on to discuss in that post several of the body dumping scandals that the company has been involved with (you'll need a strong stomach to read it) and then the close ties between SCI CEO Robert Waltrip and George W. Bush.
Now, it may be that some of the explanations offered above are the case for a few of those who are still missing. But 3,200 is a very large number, being well over twice as large as the official death toll (and large enough to really embarrass a lot of people who are in positions of power), and with a company known for getting rid of large numbers of bodies in the past working on it, there actually is a reason to at least start asking some questions.