LEEVILLE, La. – As a young adult, Kathleen Cheramie visited her grandmother's grave in a tree-lined cemetery where white concrete crosses dotted a plot of lush green grass just off Louisiana Highway 1.
Now, the cemetery in Leeville is a skeleton of its former self. The few trees still standing have been killed by saltwater intruding from the Gulf. Their leafless branches are suspended above marsh grass left brown and soggy from saltwater creeping up from beneath the graves.
Cheramie's small family graveyard is among at least two dozen cemeteries across the southeast Louisiana coast that are rapidly sinking or washing away because of erosion and subsidence accelerated by the tropical punch of storms.
Officials say not much can be done to save the cemeteries or the sinking communities that surround them.