Here in the tiny town of St. Gabriel, nearly 70 miles from New Orleans, FEMA has turned a massive, 125,000-square-foot warehouse into a morgue to process and identify the bodies. Medical examiners have now started round-the-clock operations to X-ray, photograph, fingerprint and take DNA samples from the victims.
Mayor George Grace says the dead could exceed even the town's own population of 6,000. GEORGE GRACE, MAYOR OF ST. GABRIEL, LOUISIANA: This is our contribution to the overall tragedy. And this is the only role that we were chosen to play, and we intend to play that role.
AMANPOUR: Most residents we found, like Evelyn Stiller (ph) and her family, say it's the least they can do.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If it was my family member, I wouldn't want them sitting on the interstate waiting for somebody to come collect them.
AMANPOUR: But in this poor town, average annual income $9,000, a few people do fear property values and even their health could be affected. But the blunt reaction of Theresa Roy, who owns a small grocery store, startled us, with her apparent preference for a morgue, rather than a shelter.
THERESA ROY, RESIDENT OF ST. GABRIEL: I'd rather have them here dead than alive. And at least they're not robbing you and you have to worry about feeding them.
AMANPOUR: Still, Theresa does have sympathy.
ROY: They have to go somewhere. These are people's families. They have to -- they still have to have dignity.
Friday, September 09, 2005
From Paula Zahn's show last night:
by Atrios at 14:13