Raleigh cemetery cleanup begins Thursday
Posted November 30, 2011
Raleigh, N.C. — Cleanup will begin Thursday on three historic Raleigh cemeteries damaged more than seven months ago when a tornado ripped through downtown, the city Parks and Recreation Department said Wednesday.
It's expected to take about six to eight weeks to remove downed trees at Mount Hope Cemetery, City Cemetery and O'Rorke Cemetery, the city said in a news release.
Work will begin at Mount Hope Cemetery, a historic African-American graveyard, and then move to City Cemetery, the final resting place for Raleigh's founding and state legislators, and then to O'Rorke Cemetery, which dates to 1848.
The work does not include restoring tombstones damaged in the April 16 winds. The city plans to hire contractors to repair the monuments.
Because the cemeteries are historic and because Raleigh wanted the Federal Emergency Management Agency to reimburse the cleanup costs, the city had to hire an archaeologist to examine each of the trees' roots to look for human remains.
A consultant then had to develop a clean-up plan, and city staff had to go through training to monitor and ensure that crews removed trees properly and carefully.
Mount Hope sustained the most damage in the tornado, according to the archaeological survey, but three partial skeletons were unearthed in City Cemetery. In all, seven trees unearthed vaults, caskets or human remains at the three cemeteries, while 19 trees disturbed headstones or grave markers.