Cemeteries in recovery

Published 10:15 am Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Local cemetery volunteers have begun digging out from under downed trees following Saturday evening’s storm.

St. Theodore Catholic Cemetery on the north shore of Fountain Lake in Albert Lea lost 15 trees Saturday night and there was damage to at least a dozen more, said Steve Merfeld, caretaker. In some cases, uprooted trees disturbed headstones.

The roads into the cemetery were blocked off Monday, Merfeld said, because of downed trees further into the cemetery.

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He said many people had called him to say they had chainsaws and would be willing to help out. He was going to get started calling volunteers as early as Monday night.

Just to the south, at Lakewood Cemetery, three trees were lost in the storm. “There are others that will need to be taken down, but we’ll probably wait until fall to take those down,” said volunteer Orlo Willmert.

As he worked to clean up a fallen tree Monday morning, he said working conditions were much more pleasant than they were on Sunday, when humidity was high and temperatures were around 80 degrees.

Many downed trees littered the trail that runs alongside the two cemeteries, but city crews began cleaning the trail off on Sunday morning, said Joe Grossman, city parks superintendent.

He said while crews waited until power lines were cleared from trees in the streets, they worked on the trail so people could use it.

Grossman said he estimates 300 trees were lost during the storm.

Thus far, he’s pleased with the cleanup.

“It’s going pretty fast, but there’s a lot of work to do,” he said. “Some trees, if they’re in a tight spot, might take half a day to remove.”

At Graceland Cemetery on the west side of the city, two trees went down in Saturday’s storm.