in Media, Parks and Rec, Politics, Weather

Cemetery cleanup

The deadly tornadic storm (seen right) retreats after laying waste to Raleigh's City Cemetery on April 16, 2011.

The tornadoes of April 16th not only tore through several neighborhoods like the one near mine, it also tore up three of the city’s historic cemeteries. Some folks in the press have complained about the snail’s pace in which the clean-up is progressing.

The truth is that the city’s parks staff would like nothing better than to have these cemeteries cleaned up. It’s just that it’s a monumental task, if you’re pardon the pun.

If you’ve lived around Raleigh for any length of time, chances are you’ve been through one of our occasional natural disasters. The first thing the city and state does after a disaster is to seek federal assistance in cleaning up. This money from FEMA comes with requirements that the city and state must meet if they expect their work to be reimbursed. Throw in a historic designation and you add yet another layer of bureaucracy that must first be satisfied.

Let’s not forget that the tornado unleashed much of its fury on City Cemetery, doing tremendous damage. I toured City Cemetery within an hour of the storm and was stunned to see the stop signs outside the cemetery had been completely sheared off at their bases. Huge oak trees were upended like toys, with grave markers scattered everywhere. It was, and remains, a huge mess.

While Raleigh has fared better than most communities when it comes to the economic recession, we’re not made of money. We have to play by FEMA’s rules to get this done. While it’s not ideal and it’s not expedient, the city will get this done the right way, preserving our city’s historic grave sites as well as its pocketbook.