On April 17th I did a post entitled Just who the hell IS responsible to pick up dead bodies???…..Try No One.” In it I pointed to an apparent hole in disaster response by outlining that neither the Stafford Act nor the National Response Plan deliniated any mechanism for the collection of dead bodies after a disaster thus leading us to the despicable situation post Katrina where 8 months out bodies remain in debris.
Well FINALLY someone is acknowledging the error and addressing this. The following recomendation appears in the just released Senate Katrina Investigation Report under the heading: “Reviewing, Aligning and Improving the Stafford Act, the National Response Plan, and the National Incident Management System”…
Recommendation 11: The scope of ESF-8 (Public Health and Medical Services), as defined in the NRP, should be expanded to clearly include the public health and medical needs not only of victims of an emergency, but also those of evacuees, special needs populations, and the general population who may be impacted by the event or may need to be evacuated or sheltered-in-place. The NRP should also clarify that responsibility for all mortuary activities, including collection of victims, resides with ESF-8, and appropriate mass fatality plans and capabilities should be developed. (emphasis mine)
I have to say I was half hoping that I may have been wrong in my research and analysis as it is unbelievable that no one thought to set forth the responsibility for collecting the dead. But I guess I was right.
Hopefully at least this recommendation will be acted upon before the next disaster. There has been far too much heartbreak already.