Family relieved mother's body recovered

July 4, 2006
Reported by Pam Dixon

Almost all the members of one of the largest families in Cameron lost their homes during Hurricane Rita. But what brought the Dyson family the greatest heartbreak from the hurricane was the loss of their mother's body when the storm surge washed it from a Cameron cemetery.

11 of the 15 siblings in the Dyson family lost their homes in Cameron during Hurricane Rita, but what hurt even more was losing their mother Ludie's body when the storm surge washed it from the First Baptist Church of Cameron Cemetery. Son Adley Dyson says, "We had houses here and now we're living in trailers, but that don't mean nothing. Your people is what matters."

For weeks after the hurricane, search crews recovered hundreds of bodies and caskets washed from Cameron cemeteries, but no sign of Ludie. Darlene Crosby and her sisters called searchers weekly desperate for news of their mother's recovery. Crosby says, "We thought she was gone because it had been so many months not hearing nothing, nothing, everybody but her."

The family suffered even more grief when Adley Dyson had to bury his murdered daughter, 32 year old Brandy, next to his mother's empty grave. Dyson says, "Oh, it's been a rough year for everybody. You just thank God for the strength to go on and do what you got to do."

Friday after more than nine months of heartbreak, the Dysons got the call they prayed for. An ultra light pilot spotted a casket near Hebert's Landing at Big Lake about 14 miles away. The news that it was Ludie Dyson came on her daughter Marilyn Elizondo's birthday. Elizondo says, "Dad and mom always taught us that we can make it through anything, and we have proved it time and time again all of us. But to have mom back the family is complete again and that's what we needed."

When the Dyson family reburies their mother in a couple of weeks, the stick that marked her empty grave will be removed, and so will the extra pain of losing her twice. Elizondo says, "God, thank you for finding, allowing them to find momma to bring her home to all of us. Welcome home momma. We missed you."

Since the hurricane, about 300 bodies washed from Cameron cemeteries have been recovered. All but about 40 are still missing. The Dysons are still missing the body of a brother who died as a child in the 1940s.