Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Way too obvious for Louisiana to notice.

Body identification. Not easy:
BANGKOK - U.S. police face a “hell of a task” to identify thousands of Hurricane Katrina victims left rotting in heat and humidity similar to the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami, a top forensic expert said on Wednesday.

“I don’t envy them at all,” said Detective Superintendent Derek Forest, a Briton who has been running the largest forensic operation in history to try to identify the nearly 5,500 victims of the Dec. 26 disaster in Thailand.

Precise DNA analysis difficult
Even though Thailand sent DNA to laboratories in the United States and China after the tsunami, much of the data that came back was insufficiently precise to allow for a positive identification.

The two other main methods of post-mortem analysis — fingerprinting and dental records — might also prove ineffective in some cases, Forest said.

With fingerprints, the longer a body lies in water the more difficult it is to obtain reliable prints, while dental records can prove useless if children have had no fillings.

His comments raise the prospect that many victims of Katrina — children in particular — might never be identified.

“Children don’t tend to have a lot of dental history and as oral hygiene improves, they’re having fillings later and later in life,” Forest said.
So what you're saying is that if there were some method of marking bodies in a way that was much easier to identify them than DNA, fingerprints or dental records, lives could have been saved? How about this:
We can learn more by listening to men like Jim Judkins, particularly when he explains the Magic Marker method of disaster preparedness.

Judkins is one of the officials in charge of evacuating the Hampton Roads region around Newport News, Va. These coastal communities, unlike New Orleans, are not below sea level, but they're much better prepared for a hurricane. Officials have plans to run school buses and borrow other buses to evacuate those without cars, and they keep registries of the people who need special help.

Instead of relying on a "Good Samaritan" policy -- the fantasy in New Orleans that everyone would take care of the neighbors -- the Virginia rescue workers go door to door. If people resist the plea to leave, Judkins told the Daily Press in Newport News, rescue workers give them Magic Markers and ask them to write their Social Security numbers on their body parts so they can be identified.

"It's cold, but it's effective," Judkins explained.
No doubt. Sure, blame Bush, but read this if you too have wondered why the mayor of New Orleans didn't us even one of the 560 school busses parked within a mile of the Super Dome when he had broken protocol to send anyone there in the first place.

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