Workers were spotted at City Cemetery Thursday, beginning the long and slow process of cleaning up the destruction left by the April 16 tornado.
The EF3 tornado tore the old, massive trees out of the ground as if they were saplings, damaging three cemeteries that date back to the 1700s. City Cemetery and Mt. Hope Cemetery are on the National Register of Historic Places and O’Rourke Catholic Cemetery was recently designated as a local history landmark.
According to a city memo provided to the Record by Parks Superintendent Wayne Schindler, the city must follow certain protocols in order to be eligible for the FEMA reimbursement that will cover 75 percent of the cleanup cost. The remaining 25 will come from the state.
Before any extensive cleanup can begin an archeological assessment must be completed to determine if there are any human remains in the roots and cavities of the overturned trees. The field work phase of this process should be completed by Wednesday, Schindler said in an email. According to a tentative timeline on the memo, the assessment should be completed by October.
Once this is complete the city will release a request for proposal for company that will handle the cleanup of the trees. The city will then repair the headstones, fencing and any other remaining structural elements. This work is slated to begin in February.