Helping a Gulf Coast Neighbor

Date Published: 
August, 2006
Original Author: 
Paul Wilson
Fortress Mausoleums, Pascagoula, Mississippi
Original Publication: 
ICFM Magazine, August-September 2006

Quave Cemetery was completely under water during Hurricane Katrina.
An ICFA member has helped restore the municipal cemetery and re-entomb those whose resting places were disturbed.

The Quave Cemetery in D'Iberville, Mississippi, is one of the oldest in the community. With headstones dating back to the early 1800s, this municipal cemetery is the resting place of several generations of local families.

When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005, an estimated 10 feet of water covered even the tallest structures in Quave Cemetery. The damage was immense, including five mausoleums completely destroyed and others substantially damaged. The city of D'Iberville, already stretched for resources, would need help.

Noting that the mausoleums installed by Don and Faith Magallanes' Fortress Mausoleums were undamaged, the city approached them for help.

The Magallaneses' home and office are in Pascagoula, Mississippi, on the Gulf Coast, so they had witnessed firsthand the devastation wrought by Katrina.

"Everyone was affected," Don said. "If you didn't lose your house, you were taking people in who did. It was chaos for a while."

After hearing about the situation in D'Iberville, Don and Faith were delighted at the opportunity to contribute in some way to the coast's rebuilding efforts.

They agreed to donate several of their company's mausoleums and install them, as well as to perform needed repair work on damaged mausoleums.

"There is a lot of heritage in that cemetery important to the community," Faith said. "We really wanted to help restore it."

Over the course of a week, five new Fortress units were installed in the historic cemetery to replace ruined mausoleums, and mausoleums that were damaged, but not irreparably so, were repaired.

Returning to rest
On June 2, eleven caskets were returned to their original resting places during a re-entombment ceremony. Many local residents and officials were present, including several relatives of those being re-entombed. Members of the D’Iberville City Fire Department provided escorts for the caskets as they were brought to the mausoleums.

The event got plenty of coverage in the local and regional media, including television stations and newspapers.

On this already special day, Don Magallanes was in for a surprise. He had grown up within two miles of the cemetery, and as he worked on site during the week he recognized many of the names on the memorials as those of family members. As the caskets arrived for the ceremony and the names of those to be re-entombed were called out, Don immediately recognized one as a family member.

"I actually re-entombed my great aunt, Maggie Diaz," he said. "My mother always told me about my Great-Aunt Maggie, but I never realized until then she was in this cemetery."

The project was a joint effort between the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency and the City of D'Iberville. D'Iberville Fire Captain Jay Williams, who coordinated the project, indicated he was thrilled with the results. ''Don delivered everything he said he would and made the process an easy one for the city."