FEMA will pay for cemetery damages

Published 4:19 am Saturday, March 3, 2018

Bogalusa City Council president Gloria Kates, who stood with others in the Bogalusa Cemetery on Thursday exclaimed, “Thank God, it has finally happened for us.”

Kates was referring to the fact that the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) has agreed to pay for the damages to 28 plots at the cemetery as a result of the March 2016 floods.

“During 2016, the Bogalusa Cemetery was devastated by the floodwaters, which swept throughout the city of Bogalusa,” Kates said. “We were very blessed and fortunate to have relief from the Civil Division Office of Attorney General Jeff Landry, FEMA, and Delta Caucus. My hat’s off and sincere gratitude goes to Mr. Melvin Abrams, caretaker, Ms. Christine Haillings, Research Associate, Civil Division Office of Attorney General, Attorney Ryan Seidemann of the Attorney General’s Office, and funeral home owner, Arbie Goings, for a professional job well done in their plan of action to the reopening the FEMA process for assistance in our cemetery.”

Kates said the response from FEMA was long time coming, and provided a timeline to prove it. The following is an abbreviated version:

  • Feb. 14, 2018 — FEMA approved and processed the estimates for payment to repair the graves in Bogalusa City Cemetery for the remaining claimants (via Kates, and fellow council members Tamira Smith, Brian McCree, and Doug Ritchie)
  • Jan. 3, 2018 — Final list forwarded to claimants and estimates forwarded to FEMA, awaiting approval.
  • Aug. 11, 2017 — Notified by Delta Caucus member that that FEMA Headquarters staff for Recovery relayed Bogalusa’s information and petition had been forwarded for resolution to the FEMA Public Assistance Liaison in Louisiana.
  • Aug. 1, 2017 — Assistance offered from Delta Caucus.
  • July 18, 2017 — An amendment was passed to Ordinance 2511, pertaining to the depth of underground burials in the Bogalusa Cemetery and in Ponamah Cemetery.
  • Feb 2, 2017 — An invitation was extended to Seidemann and Haillings to speak at the Bogalusa City Council meeting to give an overview of FEMA assistance and answer any questions pertaining to the cemetery repair process.
  • Feb. 1, 2017 — Response to contact relatives if possible.
  • Jan. 30, 2017 — Request for volunteers to register and claim responsibility for the disinterment; cost estimates for each individual grave impacted by flood waters
  • Feb 1, 2017 —Volunteer claimants are Gloria Kates, Brian McCree, Doug Ritchie, Tamira Smith, and Emma Dixon, due to 10 or more damages found by the caretaker Chester Abrams. An assessment was made for the tree line and foliage to be cut back so that some grave sites that can be clearly seen after the cutback.

Kates said she has six claimants, and that she will do pre-inspections and post inspections of their properties.