CHALMETTE, La. – Uriel Little’s name is among those on the granite monument in St. Bernard Parish listing people killed by Hurricane Katrina. The only problem is that Little is still alive.
“Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated,” Little, 76, said recently, paraphrasing a famous Mark Twain quote.
People have complained about misspelled names since the monument was put up speedily in time for Katrina’s first anniversary in 2006, but Little is the first case of mistaken identity among the 132 names of people who died in the storm.
Officials now say as many as five others may be incorrectly listed, because they are not on the parish coroner’s master list of deceased.
“Misspelled names are one thing, but if we have a living person listed as dead, that’s something else,” said Karen Turni Bazile, executive assistant for Parish President Craig Taffaro.
“It’s not right to leave it like that.”
The errors reflect the difficult task of trying to identify the dead after relatives scattered across the country, parish officials said.
“It’s not as simple as people might think,” said Bryan Bertucci, the parish’s coroner.
“I spent months researching this and never could come up with a list that was 100 percent complete and accurate.”
Little, a former St. Bernard street department worker who evacuated before Katrina, said he’s not worried about the error.
“They can leave my name on there if they want,” said Little, who now lives at St. Margaret’s Daughters Nursing Home in New Orleans’ Bywater neighborhood.
“It doesn’t bother me. I know that I’m still alive, and that’s what counts.”