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Louisiana family works to rebury grandmother after her casket floated away during Hurricane Ida

Ida displaced hundreds of graves in Louisiana
Ida displaced hundreds of graves in Louisiana... 04:23

Many people in Louisiana are facing another flooding threat from Tropical Storm Nicholas while parts of the state are still underwater from Hurricane Ida, which struck two weeks ago. CBS News saw last week that hurricanes don't just affect the living but the dead as well.

In Barataria, Louisiana, the coffin of Esther Morton was found on private property surrounded by floodwaters after floating away as Ida was hitting the area. The graveyard where it had floated from was just 300 yards away, and it was underwater. CBS News' David Begnaud contacted Morton's family after making the discovery. Family members said that Morton was a custodian at the local high school for more than 30 years and was buried eight years ago.

Troy Harvey hasn't seen his grandmother's casket since 2013 when he helped carry it at her funeral.

"I don't know how we supposed to get the casket back into its place, but I'm sure they're not comfortable having it sitting on their front lawn either," Harvey told Begnaud. Harvey got emotional as he stared at his grandmother's casket.

"Jesus, I love you so much," he said, crying.

According to Ryan Seidemann, chairman of Louisiana's Cemetery Response Taskforce, between 30 and 50 caskets are estimated to have been displaced due to Ida's storm surge. He flew over portions of flooded southeast Louisiana looking for coffins that got away and explained why coffins are able to do that.

"These concrete burial vaults that are put on the ground, directly on the ground or partially in the ground, they tend to be buoyant air pockets in floodwaters, and they want to float," he said. "And so if those waters come in and rock them back and forth enough, they'll just come up and travel with the floodwaters."

Harvey was determined to get his grandmother back into her final resting place and off the private property as soon as he could. He got some help from the property owner.

"I got a trailer, man, we'll take her and put her to rest when the water go down," the owner said. 

"Seriously bro?...Thank you, my brother," Harvey said as he hugged the owner.

The two men remembered each other because they grew up together 40 minutes outside New Orleans, but they haven't seen each other for 30 years since Troy moved to Texas. Kindness is what brought them back together and will guarantee that Mrs. Morton rests peacefully again.

To rebury those caskets, families could rely on assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The agency will provide up to $8,000 for reburial. Louisiana mandates that all caskets are labeled with identifying information for situations like this.

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