Cleanup Moves Forward in Raleigh Cemeteries Devastated by April’s Tornado

Cleanup Moves Forward in Raleigh Cemeteries Devastated by April’s Tornado

November, 09, 2011, by Jedidiah

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Photo by Abby Nardo Photography

The tornado that ripped through Downtown Raleigh on April 16th left a lot of residents without power and many without even a roof over there head. Some neighborhoods were deserted and the cleanup still continues in some of the hardest hit areas. 

Some of those hardest hit areas were a few historic cemeteries in the path of the tornado that still to this day have massive oak trees littered across some of the oldest graves in the city. Mt. Hope Cemetery, City Cemetery and O’Rorke-Catholic Cemetery all need lots of work. The cleanup has moved at a snail's pace for all three because of the layers involved in the historic register status of the cemeteries. Fortunately, it looks like the City of Raleigh is finally moving forward with a bid proposal "for the removal of the felled trees" being submitted next week at the Raleigh City Council meeting.

This first step of removing the trees is crucial and will set the scene for the monument restoration work that will follow. This is great news for saving some important aspects of Raleigh's history that were fractured by such a devastating storm. 

See the immediate damage of City Cemetery in Downtown Raleigh in this video that was posted following April's tornado.

Below is the statement by the City of Raleigh regarding the cleanup of the cemeteries. The full statement can be viewed here.

Restoring the three cemeteries has been slow, deliberate, and painstaking work. The City is using funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the recovery work and has to coordinate the task with the State Historic Properties Office. The first step in the recovery effort was to hire an archaeological team to sift through the root ball and stump cavity for artifacts and human remains that might have been unearthed. The team documented what they found, collected it and stored it. Both the state and federal agencies had to review the work and approve it before any additional work could continue.

"It’s a very methodical process," said Wayne Schindler of the Parks and Recreation Department. "It’s not something that could be done quickly."

At the November 15 Raleigh City Council meeting, the City will submit a bid proposal for the removal of the felled trees. Currently, the City is reviewing proposals for the monument restoration work. When that work begins, the remains and artifacts recovered during the first phase of work will be reinterred.

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