TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – TJ Cohen is the owner of Cremations of Tampa Bay and right now he has an emergency.
“My cooler is overcapacity,” Cohen said.
In all of his years of service to the community, he says he’s never seen a situation like this.
“I’ve been doing this a long time and I’ve never seen anything like this, even the past pandemic that went by last year, I mean it was bad, it was a struggle but this is worse,” he said.
His cremation service is there for families in Tampa, Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, and Pasco County and right now, he has no more space for additional bodies.
Cohen says he is trying to put up a temporary refrigerated storage building on his property in Ybor City, but the City of Tampa ordered him to stop.
“I have no problem pulling a permit but right now is not the time for bureaucratic paperwork,” he said.
Tampa City Councilman Orlando Gudes is well aware of the crisis because his family also owns a funeral home.
“The cemeteries can’t dig enough holes fast enough, nor can they make enough vaults to go in the ground. Funerals are being delayed two and three weeks because they just don’t have enough space,” Gudes said.
The councilman says the delay is not acceptable.
“You can’t tell loved ones I can’t bury your folks for a week or two. When someone dies, you want to grieve, you want to make sure they are in a safe place, make sure your family is comforted,” he said.
A spokesperson for the City of Tampa says a permit is needed to build any structure, but they will now work with the owner to speed up the process.
“I need this cooler up ASAP because there is no place to put any more deceased people,” Cohen said.