City Council member helps recover bodies in New Orleans

Along with his job as a Memphis City Council member, Brent Taylor also owns a funeral home. Labor Day weekend Taylor and many other mid-south funeral directors were part of the massive effort to retrieve bodies left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

According to Taylor, the terrible destruction television images have broadcast of the Mississippi Gulf Coast area looked even worse in person.

"The 3 days I was there, I personally saw 200 fatalities," he said.

Taylor was among dozens of undertakers from around the country asked to help retrieve the bodies of those killed by the hurricane.

"We go in with hearses and remove the bodies, and take them back to the morgue," Taylor said.

Many of the dead were placed into refrigerated trucks. Taylor said the teams of undertakers were called because of their expertise in handling the dead.

"As we would retrieve bodies, we would make temporary identifications based on what identification they had on them."

Taylor said they found bodies in yards, cars, and homes. He believes most of the victims drowned, but said he knows of several cases where a person took his or her own life.

"I will say there were a rash of suicides," Taylor said, "People who survived the storm, for what ever reason, find out that their home had been wiped out or that they had lost their entire family. In some cases they would commit suicide."

New teams of Mid-South undertakers are expected to help out in devastated areas in the coming days.

Taylor said it may take weeks to get all of the dead accounted for, and because of decomposition, some bodies may never be identified.