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The Dead Zone

The Dead Zone

By: Magnolia Tribune - September 14, 2005

By Bob Pittman
Special from The Independent

At the height of the state’s considerable attempts to recover from the ravages of Hurricane Katrina Mississippi politics has reared its head – in this instance, its ugly head – in the handling of bodies of victims of the storm.

In Mississippi’s storm-struck regions, victims of Katrina are still being recovered, bodies are still stacked in air conditioned trucks in some areas, and funeral homes, particularly on the Gulf Coast, are limited in their ability to serve families as they struggle to recover from the ravages of the hurricane.

And in Jackson, funeral home and crematorium operator Mark Seepe is in great demand as more families consider cremation of family members whose bodies have badly deteriorated in the aftermath of the storm.

But Seepe, who has performed more than 10,000 cremations over his 20 years plus in the business, is sitting idly by, unable to offer his professional services because of an ill-timed and questionable administrative decision by the Mississippi State Board of Funeral Service, a state agency already under criticism by the PEER Committee, the investigative arm of the Legislature.

“We are receiving calls from all over the state, particularly from South Mississippi,” Seepe told The Independent this week. “The families of storm victims and funeral home operators badly need our help. But we are helpless. All we can do in this emergency is sit on the sidelines.”

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