This will surely be remembered as the Halloween when the dead of Lafitte floated from their resting places.
"The horror of it -- you know, it is just like a horror movie," said the Rev. Burnick Terrebonne, pastor of St. Anthony Catholic Church. " . . . If a person did this, went in these graves, we'd say it was the most heinous kind of thing. But when Mother Nature does it, what can you do?"
There wasn't much to do but grab a line and gently moor a coffin to a tree or a telephone pole to keep it from drifting away on the knee-deep flood waters that today covered most of this town just south of New Orleans.
The coffins, buried in shallow graves or above-ground vaults, were set afloat as Hurricane Juan pushed the bayou over the levee two days ago.
When Juan swaggered through the area for the third time early today, this time as a tropical storm, the people of south Louisiana had wearied of his tricks.
The Associated Press reported that after causing more than $1 billion damage in Louisiana, the storm returned to the Gulf of Mexico today, gathered strength and rolled over rain-soaked Alabama and Florida.
Juan weakened as it went inland this afternoon near Gulf Shores, Ala., moving northeast at 15 to 20 miles an hour. No damage or flooding was reported in Gulf Shores or nearby Foley when the storm's center passed over.
Gale warnings were posted from Port Arthur, Tex., to Fort Myers, Fla., but tornado warnings for parts of Alabama, Georgia and Florida were canceled late tonight. Thunderstorms spread across the region, and tides reached 4 to 6 feet above normal along the northwestern Florida coast.
At least seven people have died since Sunday when the sudden, late-season storm first hit the Louisiana coast. Seven others were missing today. The storm skipped north over Louisiana Monday, veered east Tuesday and was downgraded to a tropical storm, then reentered the gulf Wednesday before heading inland again today.
"There ain't been nothing like this since 1912," said Frost Fleming, standing in his hip boots in Lafitte's flood water.
How deep was it? Well, most people had set their refrigerators and furniture on concrete blocks as the water rose in their homes, and much of that furniture wore water lines four inches up anyway.
Calvin Wade, 23, paddled a pirogue -- a small, tipsy canoe -- through the front gate of his mother's home, four inches of chain link fence visible above the water. "The fence is 4 feet high," he said. "But the water is going down . . . I went over that fence yesterday in a skiff with an outboard motor."
Poling the pirogue through the cemetery at the south end of town, Wade pointed into the brown water at an empty grave and said, "That's where my grandfather used to be buried. Now, he's either that one, that one or that one," he said, pointing at three concrete vaults. "Or maybe he's that one over there."
Under a sky the color of wet cement, a brackish, fishy smell hung in the air, sharper than normal in a town where the bayou runs along many back yards and where fishermen tie trawlers to piers behind their homes.
At mid-afternoon, an express-delivery truck appeared in the axle-deep water on the far side of the bridge that divides the town.
It was no joke, driver Omar Saybe said.
"They told me they didn't care if the water was 6 feet deep, to get this equipment down to Cajun Explorations in Lafitte and to pick up a box there to go back."
Saybe spotted Cajun Explorations, its office seeming to float in mid-bayou. He looked at the water all around his truck and sat a while.
A delighted bystander shouted at him: "Looks like you gonna have to get your feet wet."
"I'm beginning to see that," Saybe answered.