Funeral Home Worker Swims Through Flood to Save Bodies

September 11, 2011
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A flash flood that buried Aden Muslim Funeral Services under five feet of water Thursday night because of Tropical Storm Lee did not stop business as usual on Saturday.

From the front, the quaint, two-story white-paneled structure on Easy Street in Woodbridge looked relatively unscathed. And services were still being performed on Saturday morning and afternoon, albeit outside the main part of the building.

But less than 48 hours earlier, water rushing from Marumsco Creek rose five feet into the building, knocked down a fence in the parking lot and damaged four cars – including three hearses.

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Transportation Manager Nasser Saleh said he had to swim into the building to save the bodies of three deceased individuals inside their caskets.

Saleh tied one casket to the table, which was attached to a sink against the wall. He tied another to a staircase in an adjacent room.

The damage was obvious both in the building and in the parking lot where the hearses were lined with mud and small tree limbs from being pushed against the woods next to the creek.

One casket was discarded along with various debris behind the building just a few feet from the murky, brown body of water.

Saleh said they “had to clean up a lot of material” but that the structure is intact and that “the operation is still going on.”

Easy Steet looked like a construction zone Saturday with dirt and debris alongside the businesses that front U.S. 1.

Flooding from Marumsco Creek, which damaged the buildings, also left more than 200 people homeless at the Marumsco and Holly Acres mobile home parks in eastern Prince William.

Those staying since Thursday night at the makeshift shelter at Woodbridge High School can stay at the Dale City Recreation Center starting Sunday morning through Friday morning, according to the Prince William Park Authority.

The recreation center will be closed until that date to all patrons except those participating in the state-licensed playschool program.

County officials are working with individuals to determine their needs after next Friday, said county spokeswoman Nikki Brown.

According to a Prince William press release, groups and individuals wanting to help flood victims can make cash donations to the American Red Cross, Prince William Chapter and not clothing or food.

Those wishing to donate to the Red Cross should go to www.AmericanRedCross.org, click on “Donate Funds” and then click on your local Red Cross Chapter. Donations may also be made to the Virginia Disaster Relief Fund at www.vaemergency.com.

Food and clothing donation locations will be announced later.

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