WAVELAND, Miss. – A lone man wielding a chainsaw in a fog-shrouded cemetery is enough to make anyone do a double-take.
But for J.E. Loiacano, a former high school and Mississippi State football coach who has owned the Gardens of Memory Cemetery in Waveland for two decades, cutting off stray branches in whatever the weather throws at him is strictly routine.
“It’s just got to get done. (The cemetery needs) perpetual care,” he says, adding that the grounds must be at their best for two services this week.
Even if he wasn't in the mood to work on this New Year's Day, like other business owners in the area he's had trouble finding workers, he says.
Katrina destroyed Loiacano's home in the Cedar Point subdivision and flooded both of his businesses -- the cemetery and Loiacano Health Club. Thankfully, the storm did not author any of the gruesome scenes of floating coffins seen during major floods in lower-lying areas of the Gulf Coast, he says.
Still, the storm did do a lot of damage to the cemetery, leaving Loiacano with plenty to do as he simultaneously attempts to rebuild his home and life.
“I’ve got a lot of work to do for this week,” Loiacano says, politely excusing himself to return to his chainsaw.
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