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Louisiana cemeteries becoming skeletons

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Story by: JOHN BELMONT, ASSOCIATED PRESS

LEEVILLE, La. (AP) - Along the coast of Louisiana - cemeteries are becoming skeletons.

Windell Curole, General Manager of the South LaFourche Levee District explains, "We talk about rest in peace and yet we can't...(mumbles)...We did not bury people in marshes. We buried them on high ground."

Burial plots in at least two dozen cemeteries across the state's southeast coast are literally washing away - sinking into the gulf.

Erosion and huge storms like Katrina, Rita and Isaac to blame.

Archie Chaisson, Coastal Zone Manager for Lafourche Parish says, "During Hurricane Isaac with the Breathwaite community in Plaquemines Parish. There were upwards of 300 graves that were inundated with water and caskets that popped up and were spread all over the highway that the cemetery directors had to go and put back in the ground."

In some cases human remains have separated from caskets.

Many of the plots and headstones are historic, dating back to the early 1800's.

Relatives say they feel powerless.

"it really hurts more when I know that my that, my ancestors that, their grave stones won't be there." adds Curole.

Since the 1930's, Louisiana has lost an estimated 1900 square miles of land to the Gulf of Mexico and some say the problem is getting worse

"When I was kid, this place didn't flood. So, it was on high ground - you never heard of such a thing as graves floating." says Timothy Kerner, Mayor of the Town of Lafitte, La.

Authorities say there isn't much they can do until there is a comprehensive plan to improve the levee system and invest in coastal restoration.

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