Meanwhile, on its website, CNN is also reporting that authorities removed the bodies of more than 30 people from a nursing home in a suburban New Orleans parish.
NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (CNN) -- In a grim indicator of what may lie ahead, authorities were removing the remains of more than 30 people from a flooded nursing home in a suburban New Orleans parish.
The discovery at St. Rita's Nursing Home in lower St. Bernard Parish came as 25,000 body bags arrived at the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.
Early Thursday, the official death toll along from Hurricane Katrina stood at 294, but that number is expected to rise dramatically.
Mortuary teams with refrigerated trucks began arriving Wednesday at the nursing home, where St. Bernard Parish Sheriff Jack Stevens said "30-plus" bodies were found. Between 40 and 50 other people were rescued from the facility, Stevens said. (See video on the gruesome discovery -- 2:02)
The parish is east of New Orleans, where between 10,000 and 15,000 people are believed to remain in the flooded city, and thousands are feared dead.
Deputies reported that floodwaters had reached a height of eight feet in some parts of St. Bernard. The nursing home was still surrounded by about three feet of water on Wednesday, as authorities began removing bodies.
Throughout New Orleans and its surrounding parishes, National Guard troops were going house to house to search for survivors and recover the dead -- marking the houses they searched with an "X" to avoid duplication, said Brig. Gen. Michael Fleming, commander of a Florida unit dispatched to New Orleans. (See video of soldiers aiding recovery -- 3:16)
FEMA set up a temporary morgue in the town of St. Gabriel, about 70 miles west of New Orleans...
Now come the grifters...
If the loss of love ones, their homes, and everything else in their lives was not enough, the vulnerable now face an influx of grifters. At least the grifters made it to the scene more quickly than FEMA, or Vice President Cheney, who finally agreed to cut short his vacation. Perhaps New Orleans took on a new importance of sorts for the V.P. after former Louisiana Senator John Breaux referred to the city as "Baghdad under water." Anything Iraqi, rather than domestic, always draws Cheney's attention.
And Michael Brown, the ever intrepid director of FEMA, is now also apparently on the case! He announced that a "temporary mortuary been set up in St. Gabriel, La, was prepared to receive 500 to 1,000 bodies a day, with refrigeration on site to hold the corpses." He was quoted by the New York Times as saying: "They will be processed as rapidly as possible."
If Brown couldn't display leadership of any kind to save lives, at least he can make sure there is an orderly process in place to assure the handling of the corpses! It is time for all the carping and criticism to end!
Meanwhile, a Washington Post reporter critiques his newspaper's own coverage of Katrina, telling Eric Wemple and Jason Cherkis of the Washington City Paper: "We were late to realize how unbelievably catastrophic this was. We were the FEMA of newspapers on this one."