Local News

Trees to be cleared from tornado-ravaged Raleigh cemeteries

Posted November 15, 2011 4:32 p.m. EST

— Seven months after a tornado uprooted trees in three historic cemeteries near downtown Raleigh, the City Council on Tuesday accepted a bid to clean up the damage.

Family members of people buried at Mount Hope Cemetery, a historic African-American graveyard, have complained about the delay. Trees also remain down at City Cemetery, the oldest public cemetery, where Raleigh's founding fathers and legislators are buried, and at O'Rorke Cemetery, which dates to 1858.

Before Raleigh could be reimbursed for cleaning up the cemeteries, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and state preservation rules required an archaeological survey be completed. The survey was completed in August, and FEMA officials approved the clean-up in September, after reviewing the archaeologist's findings.

Raleigh will pay ArborMax $189,215 to clear the trees from the cemetery, starting in two to four weeks. Councilman Eugene Weeks asked that other bidders be pulled in for assistant if ArborMax cannot finish the job in a month.

Mount Hope sustained the most damage in the April 16 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.