‘Every crematory in Texas is overwhelmed:’ Third mobile morgue arrives in Amarillo

‘Every crematory in Texas is overwhelmed:’ Third mobile morgue arrives in Amarillo
Last month, the city announced the arrival of two mobile morgues in Amarillo but as space continues to be a problem a third unit was requested. (Source: KFDA)

AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Last month, the city announced the arrival of two mobile morgues in Amarillo but as space continues to be a problem a third unit was requested.

The request was made by Shafer Mortuary Services through Texas emergency management officials.

The temporary units on site can hold 50 bodies each and are currently full.

“We have probably 150 deceased people and we had to call in for the morgue trailers,” said Candice Shafer, owner of Shafer Mortuary Services. “We have those two full and they’re sending us a third one.”

The mortuary provides assistance to not only local funeral homes, but also the rest of the counties in the Texas Panhandle.

Over the last month they have done over triple the number of cremations they would normally do.

“As cremations go, most crematories can only handle five to six people a day and today so far we’ve picked up 25 people. At this rate they’re coming in quicker than they’re going back out,” said Shafer.

The movement towards cremations has been gradual over the last decade but the pandemic has made it more popular.

“We’re opting to cremate because it was not possible or feasible to have an official funeral service in churches or other places of worship where you had a lot of people meeting,” said Morris Overstreet, president of Warford-Walker Mortuary Inc.

Cremations are also faster and cheaper than burials. In the city of Amarillo most funeral homes don’t have their own crematory and due to the higher volume of cremations, there’s a slight delay between when one can request a cremation and when the body is actually cremated.

“Five to 10 days,” said Overstreet.

If the current rates continue Shafer Mortuary staff believes it won’t take long to fill up a third truck.

“The coronavirus is a real thing and people are actually passing away from it in great numbers,” said Shafer. “Be careful and pay attention to what you’re doing.”

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