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Since cremation was a rare practice at that time, lots of bodies It exceeded the capacity of undertakers, gravediggers and coffin makers to carry out the difficult task of burying the dead.
At the same time, a ban on public gatherings that included funerals and vigils increased the pain of many families Grief stricken who could not grieve enough for the loss of their loved ones.
The United States Wasn’t Prepared for the Mass Mortality of the Flu
Nancy K. bristowProfessor of History at the University of Puget Sound and author of American Epidemic: The Lost Worlds of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic, says that America was not prepared for the outbreak Partly because advances in bacteriology led many Americans to believe they could control infectious diseases.
“This is not what Americans expected to happen in 1918,” she says. “A large number of people died very quickly, especially on the East Coast, where the flu first came, and they didn’t get a chance to prepare off course not”.
Mass mortality led to horrific scenes. Red Cross nurses in Baltimore reported cases visiting flu-infested homes to search for sick patients in beds next to bodies. In other cases, corpses were covered with snow and pushed into the corners of the bedrooms, where they festooned for the day.
Collapsed gravediggers piled coffins in the corridors of funeral homes and even in their own homes.
Cemeteries struggled to handle the rising death toll. gravediggers absent from work, either because they came down with the flu or because they were afraid they would, Bereaved families were sometimes forced to dig graves for their loved ones,
coffin companieswho were already busy supplying coffins for the thousands of soldiers killed in World War I, could not meet demand,
War Industry Board ordered casket manufacturers to make only simple coffin And to immediately suspend production of “partition panels, sofas and all varieties of fancy trim”.
Philadelphia looked like the plague-stricken Middle Ages
The most horrifying horrors witnessed in PhiladelphiaWhere the death toll at the peak of the epidemic reached close to 1,000 in a day.
The whole neighborhood was covered with crepe which was put on the front doors to mark the deaths inside.
Civic leaders enlisted the JG Brill Company, a streetcar manufacturer, to manufacture thousands of crude boxes in which to bury the dead, while Much needed coffins were arriving in the city under armed guards,
500 bodies packed the city’s morgue, which only had a capacity for 36 corpses. City rushes to open six additional morgues And kept the dead bodies in the cold storage plant. Some Philadelphians were unintentionally thrown into mass graves dug with mechanical shovels.
The scenes in Philadelphia looked straight to the plague-infested Middle Ages.
During the day and night, horse-drawn carriages maintained a continuous parade through the streets of Philadelphia. Priests join police to collect dead bodies Wrapped in sackcloth and blood-stained sheets were left on verandahs and sidewalks.
The bodies were piled on top of each other in cars, with limbs sticking out from under the sheets.
People’s grief affected by the ban on public events
Public funerals and gatherings were banned in cities such as Philadelphia and Chicago. While Iowa banned public funerals and even the opening of coffins, exceptions were made only for parents or wives who identified soldiers before burial, and even then, coffins were only opened. Could go when family members covered their faces. touching the body