MILLERSVILLE, Pa., April 3 /PRNewswire/ -- How the bodies of the dead were
handled after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast last August will be the
topic of research conducted by Dr. Henry W. Fischer III, director of the
Center for Disaster Research and Education (CDRE) at Millersville University
of Pennsylvania. Fischer received a $13,400 follow-up grant from the National
Science Foundation (NSF) to conduct the research. His team will be in
Louisiana and Mississippi April 23-29, 2006.
"They continue to find bodies in the region," said Fischer. "When our team
was in the Gulf Coast in October, the forensics people were overwhelmed.
They're happy that we're coming back now."
Fischer, along with Dr. Kathryn Gregoire, MU social work professor and
CDRE research associate, and two MU students, Lynn Letukas and Joe Mellon,
traveled to the Gulf Coast in October to help the emergency responders
document what went well in their view, and what will be amended for the
future. That same team will be responding this month to see how the mass
fatalities were handled and continue to be handled.
This builds on Fischer's work in Asia after the December 2004 Tsunami. At
that time, Fischer received a $68,000 grant from the NSF to research the
handling of bodies in Thailand, India and Sri Lanka. Fischer found that the
Buddhist religion's custom of wrapping and burning the bodies was not
abandoned as had been reported.
"Prior to arriving in Thailand we heard reports of mass burials, and we
even saw photographs of mass burials," said Fischer. "When we started our
interviews with local people and they said they didn't have mass graves, we
thought they were hiding something. It turns out there were never any mass
burials and they didn't even think about that possibility."
The information from Fischer's work in the Gulf Coast will be shared with
the research community via a San Diego State University super computer.
"The Gulf Coast is threatened by hurricanes on a regular basis," said
Fischer. "We will help the emergency responders document what went well in
their view, and what will be amended for the future. This is valuable
information that will help others prepare for such events in the future."
SOURCE Millersville University