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'Death Waits For Nobody.' Funeral Homes Open For Business During Blizzard


Snow has begun to fall in the D.C. region. Meteorologists have been saying for days that the storm may be an historic blizzard. Metro is shutting down for the weekend, and schools, museums and other businesses are battening down the hatches.

But Scott Massing is prepared for whatever comes.

Massing manages a funeral home in Rockville, Maryland. "Death waits for nobody," he says.

His employer, Sagel Bloomfield Danzansky Goldberg Funeral Care Inc., has four-wheel-drive vehicles and sleeping rooms for staff — in case death comes knocking.

"Funeral homes have to be ready," Massing says.

Then again, burials can be tricky in a blizzard, says Gary Downer, a manager at Virginia's Money and King Vienna Funeral Home.

"Certain cemeteries are unable to locate graves in the weather, when the ground is covered to the depth" that's expected, Downer says.

Heavy snow doesn't simplify processions, either. "It's hard to do a funeral procession when there's 6 inches [of snow]," says Bob DeVol of DeVol Funeral Home in Gaithersburg, Maryland. "You don't want people out there hurting themselves."

The storm has some families postponing services. One client bumped a Saturday funeral by a week, DeVol says. Another rescheduled to Monday, then Tuesday.

Ronald Taylor, who owns Ronald Taylor II Funeral Home in D.C., says he's equipped for schedule changes. His funeral home just keeps the deceased onsite for two or three extra days.

But those who can't wait, don't wait. Taylor says he had two interments just this morning. With heavy snow expected this afternoon, "they wanted to be out by noon," he says.

A man who answers the phone at Fairfax Memorial Funeral Home sounds busy. Funeral directors are "out on a service right now in the middle of the storm," he says. He hangs up.

Time management is crucial in the funeral business.

But if this weekend's blizzard is as historic as forecasters predict, even funeral homes may be left with few options.

"If we can’t get there, we can’t get there," DeVol says. "We hope during this time, nobody passes."

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