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'Something I haven’t experienced in my whole career': Houston funeral homes busier than ever

Some families must wait more than a week to bury a loved one.

HOUSTON — Some families across the Houston area have been waiting to bury their loved ones during the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s been something I haven’t experienced in my whole career," said Gregory Compean, owner of Compean Funeral Home.

Compean has been in the funeral business since he was 19.

“When July came ... the numbers kept increasing," he said.

Those numbers typically in the summer are 30 to 40 funerals per month. Right now, Compean Funeral Home is on track to double that in July and Compean says scheduling is the biggest issue.

“There’s over 120 funeral homes in the Houston metropolitan area and they are served, by best guess, 10 to 15 cemeteries," Compean said.

That means some families are having to wait more than a week to bury a loved one.

“I think a lot of families with that uncertainty, with that fear, are opting for simple cremation," said Tim Baker, with Cremate Texas.

He said he's seen an increased need for their services, too. Baker says in more rural parts of the state there could be delays for cremations in communities where there aren’t as many facilities to handle the increased number of requests, but not in Houston.

“In the Houston Metropolitan, as a general rule, no, they are not (waiting)," Baker said.

Compean Funeral Home purchased a refrigerated trailer, it's something they hope they don’t have to use.

“The refrigeration is just an added insurance to make sure the loved ones who select our facilities, that there loved ones are properly sheltered," Compean said.

Both companies told KHOU 11 News they’re preparing for the increased need for their services to continue this fall. They’re busy hiring, training staff and adding extra shifts to try and stay ahead.