Modesto company to deliver more body bags to New Orleans

The government's order for another 50,000 will be filled by about eight firms

The Modesto Bee (California)

September 9, 2005

The federal government is trying to purchase an additional 50,000 body bags for use in the Hurricane Katrina cleanup and in Iraq, according to an official for a Modesto manufacturer.
Previously, the Federal Emergency Management Administration purchased 25,000 body bags and shipped them to New Orleans.

"We recently delivered every bag we had in stock, which is about 400," said John Hassapakis, manager of Central Valley Professional Services in Modesto. "Those were sent directly to New Orleans."

This week the government put out a bid for 50,000 more bags, he said.

"They are for backup in Louisiana and for offshore purposes, but it will bemonths before they will be able to getthem," he said. "That's a lot of material."

The Modesto company can make 5,000 bags a month when it's operating at full capacity, he said, though he added his isn't the only company making bags for the government.

Besides Central Valley Professional Services, there's another Modesto business — California Professional Manufacturing — that makes body bags, Hassapakis said.

In addition to the two Modesto firms, there are about a half-dozen other companies in the United States that manufacture body bags, Hassapakis said. All of them are expected to help fill the latest government order.

Officials at California Professional Manufacturing declined to comment Thursday.

In New Orleans, officials have constructed a temporary refrigerated mortuary that can hold up to 5,000 bodies at a time.

Because many bodies have been waterlogged or exposed to natural elements for more than a week, the identification process is expected to be slow, officials said.

That means that there will be an even bigger demand for body bags, Hassapakis said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Bee staff writer Patrick Giblin can be reached at 578-2347 or