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NFDA to Aid Funeral Service - Hit by Recent Hurricanes


NFDA Efforts Pay Off as Senator Requests Funds for Katrina Funeral Expenses

As a direct result of NFDA's Advocacy Division efforts in Washington, D.C., Senator Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) has contacted FEMA regarding supplemental funding for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Click here to view a copy of the letter.

NFDA Volunteers Rise to the Occasion

NFDA continues to provide help where needed in the Gulf Coast region through state associations. To date, more than 700 volunteers have signed up with NFDA, while approximately 40 volunteers have been sent to Gulfport, Miss. and Baton Rouge, La. Volunteers in Gulfport are working with families, conducting funerals, embalming,

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helping with yard work, running errands, and just about anything that the funeral directors need assistance with. They are helping funeral directors get back on their feet. Thank you to the hundreds of volunteers who have come forward and to those who have been in the Gulf area to assist. Volunteers in Baton Rouge are working to interview families in person or by phone. NFDA has posted a group of photos on its Website of damage done by Hurricane Katrina and the efforts of NFDA volunteers. To view these photos, click here.

UPDATE 9/16/05

House Passes Katrina Volunteer Protection Act

The House of Representatives passed the Katrina Volunteer Protection Act by voice vote September 14. H.R. 3736 specifies that any person or entity that volunteers to render aid to those impacted by Hurricane Katrina will not be liable for any personal injury, property damage or loss, or death, arising out of that aid, as long as the injury is not "willful, wanton, reckless or criminal," or constitute a violation of a federal or state civil rights law.

It preempts state laws if they are inconsistent with H.R. 3736, but does not preempt state laws that provide additional protection from liability. The bill has been forwarded to the Senate, which is expected to pass it next week.

UPDATE 9/15/05

As recovery efforts continue in the Gulf Coast region in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, we want to take the opportunity to update you on NFDA's activities and provide you with additional information about the resources available as the efforts by funeral service move forward. We are very proud of how our membership has responded to this crisis.

  • NFDA volunteer efforts continue in the region. We have been overwhelmed by the offers of support from members across the country. The first wave of volunteers went into Mississippi last week, and a second wave was deployed to Louisiana this week. NFDA volunteers have served in a variety of capacities, assisting local funeral service with transport, embalming, assisting families, and calling families to obtain identification information and survivor and next of kin information.
  • If you have signed up to volunteer and have not yet been contacted, please be patient. We are rotating teams in and out regularly, and will continue to provide assistance as long as it is requested. We recognize that volunteers are ready and eager to help. We are working closely with the state associations and federal agencies to make sure we are meeting their needs and not creating additional stress.
  • The NFDA website continues to be an important resource for updates and news related to Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath. Don't forget to bookmark, and the NFDA Katrina blog,, for continuing coverage of our efforts in the Gulf Coast.
  • Renowned author and NFDA member, Thomas Lynch, was featured on National Public Radio this week, in an essay on the living and the dead. His words spoke strongly of the commitment of funeral service in times like this as those who go the distance with the dead. His poem, “Local Heroes,” is a fitting tribute to the work you're doing. Click here to read more and listen to Mr. Lynch's poem.
  • We'd also like you to know that NFDA is planning a special tribute to be held during the 2005 NFDA Convention & Expo in Chicago, October 2-5. This will be a moving and uplifting time to band together. You'll have the chance to hear first-hand from the local heroes who served our great profession so well. Please consider coming to Chicago if you can. A number of your colleagues from the Gulf Coast region have said they will be there. They have continued to express how motivating your personal ties, connections and support have meant as they move forward in serving and restoring life both at home and in their businesses.

Because so many Gulf Coast residents have been displaced, you may find yourself in a position to offer help and comfort even if you have not been directly impacted by the hurricane. With that in mind, please allow us to offer some words of support and guidance to you and those in your funeral home who may be able to provide special care to those turning to you for guidance and care.

  • It is important to know and communicate to individuals the availability of victim assistance being offered by the federal government, as well as how to obtain these benefits. To the best of our knowledge, hurricane victims must first register with FEMA to be eligible for disaster relief, including funeral benefits. They may apply via phone, 800-621-3362, or online at FEMA will qualify and provide the families of those who have died as a result of the hurricane with up to $7500 to provide for funeral arrangements and burial. As NFDA learns more details, we'll keep you informed.
  • Counsel and assist families to work within this FEMA framework. Contact your state association, who may be aware of donations available from suppliers and other individuals. Certainly, any special arrangements you make to help families in this tragedy are wonderful, and between you and those you are serving.
  • Families who don't yet know where their loved one is may contact you. To assist these families, you can call a DMORT-based Family Assistance Center out of Baton Rouge and inquire about their loved ones. The Find Family National Call Line is 866-326-9393.

  • President Bush has declared September 16 a “National Day of Prayer and Remembrance.” You may wish to mark the day with a memorial service or other appropriate observance, especially if there are a high number of displaced families in your community. Consider checking with your local clergy and elected officials, who may already be planning some sort of gathering.
  • Communicate the value of “memorial” calling hours and ceremonies. Some families may not know or understand that they can still have many elements of a traditional funeral when the body is not recovered or the time to wait for identification becomes too long. We know how valuable a memorial visitation can be in creating an atmosphere where the “person's presence” can be felt and the support of family, friends and the wider community can gather. Encourage anything that helps the family receive the support of others.

If we can help you or you would like guidance in any aspect of your service please do not hesitate to call NFDA, 800-228-6332. Thank you for your continued good work.

UPDATE 9/12/2005

NFDA'S Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts Move Forward
First Wave of Volunteers Head to Gulf, Donations Pour In
The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) continues to respond to the needs of those funeral directors and communities devastated by Hurricane Katrina. MORE


TEAMS BEGIN DEPLOYMENT early Friday evening President-elect Bob Biggins and volunteers bringing needed supplies will convene in Hattiesburg, MS and from there connect with teams of volunteers organized by NFDA in order to relieve south Mississippi funeral service, particularly in the Biloxi/Gulfport areas... Over 375 have volunteered through NFDA... "first wave" team members were targeted by transport and travel routes, proximity and then by availability... all volunteers who have faxed or sent forms should consider themselves "on standby."

Additional teams will head toward south Mississippi over the weekend.

South Louisiana support and relief is "on standby" until security, communications and other logistical matters are resolved.


NFDA Responds to Katrina
Funds Sought to Support Funeral Directors

NFDA announced today that it has activated its Disaster Relief Fund in order to aid funeral directors whose businesses have been damaged or destroyed by the devastation. MORE

NFDA to Aid Funeral Service Hit by Katrina

NFDA extends its deepest concerns and sympathies to all who have lost lives, homes and businesses as Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast. Funeral service – so critical to disaster response – has also been compromised and, in some cases, rendered unable to serve.

Many caring NFDA-member funeral directors and funeral service suppliers have already asked about volunteering time, money and resources as part of a clean-up and restoration effort. To assist funeral service in the Gulf Coast area, NFDA has again activated the Disaster Relief Fund and has called for volunteers and funeral service supplies.

“All at NFDA are concerned about the way this disaster has impacted scores of funeral homes in Louisiana, Mississippi and surrounding states,” said NFDA Chief Executive Officer Christine Pepper, CAE. “Homes have been crushed; businesses have been washed away. We are assessing the situation as best we can. Our first concern is to do what we can to get these funeral service firms back on their feet. We have made the decision to begin collecting funds, supplies and volunteer names in order to be ready to respond to needs in those states.

“We know we can count on our members and friends to come to the need of their peers, customers and colleagues. I’m sure you will understand that the state executive directors in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi are not able to take calls at this time. I hope instead we can share concerns and questions with the entire membership through our Website.”

NFDA asks its members, funeral service suppliers, and domestic and international allied organizations to contribute to the Disaster Relief Fund. All contributions will be directed to support efforts to relieve and support funeral directors affected by Katrina as they work to re-establish business in order to serve families.

To help now:

  • To make a tax-deductable donation online, click here.
  • To donate funds, time or supplies, download a donation form and send it to NFDA.
  • You can also send a check payable to:

    Disaster Relief Fund
    c/o Funeral Service Foundation
    13625 Bishop’s Drive
    Brookfield, WI 53005
  • Stay in touch with NFDA colleagues and friends, post messages and read the news from those involved in the disaster at

Lastly, consider donating blood to the American Red Cross on behalf of funeral service. Together, we can help get funeral service back on its feet for Gulf Coast families.