PEI

P.E.I. cemeteries still dealing with damage caused by Fiona

Post-tropical storm Fiona downed trees at cemeteries across Prince Edward Island, and two weeks after the storm hit, there is still quite a lot of work to be done.

'It's not easy to get in with heavy equipment'

'We still have trees within the perimeter of the cemetery and some internally that we will have to pick away at,' says Doug MacDonald, board member with The People's Cemetery in Charlottetown. (Kevin Yarr/CBC)

Post-tropical storm Fiona downed trees at cemeteries across Prince Edward Island, and two weeks after the storm hit, there is still quite a lot of work to be done.

Most of the trees which fell along the main road of The People's Cemetery in Charlottetown have been cleared, but there is still more work to do, says Doug MacDonald, board member with the cemetery.

"We still have trees within the perimeter of the cemetery and some internally that we will have to pick away at. It's not easy to get in with heavy equipment so it just becomes a little more technical," he said, adding that more than 20 trees fell in the graveyard.

Workers also have to work around headstones, and staff don't know how much damage there is yet to those grave markers.

"There is no question there have been a few monuments which have been damaged as a result of the storm. But as far as the trees are now that are lying on monuments, we would have no way to tell what damage there is there until we finally get them removed," MacDonald said.

Too dangerous for visits

Some families have called asking about burials and the condition of the cemetery, but everything is on hold for cleanup, MacDonald said.

"We haven't been allowing people in the cemetery because it was just too dangerous," he said.

MacDonald is hoping the cemetery will be ready for burials next week but cleanup will continue for the next few. The cemetery is a non-profit and MacDonald hopes to apply for funding to cover the cost.

It's a similar story at Sherwood Cemetery.

"It's not very pretty at this time," said the cemetery's administrator John Abbot.

"We have a lot of damaged trees, not so much stones or monuments, we were lucky. There are some trees on some stones, but they are not broken."

Over 150 downed trees

The north side of Sherwood Cemetery is a woodlot and most of those trees came down in the storm, but Abbot said they have been able to get back to having burials.

"We've got the roadways in the lower end of the cemetery cleaned which is where the majority of our interments take place at this time. If we had to try to inter somebody in the eastern end of the cemetery … next to the airport we would have some difficulty."

Forestry workers were able to walk through the cemetery and help decide what trees should be removed and what should be left, Abbot said.

"There was probably in excess of 150 total down," he said.

"It's our pride and joy — we spend a lot of time in there, we spend a lot of money on it — and to see some of these, you know, 200-year-old trees we're going to have to take down, those aren't days you wish for."

Abbot said people have been very understanding as Sherwood Cemetery is being cleaned.

The hope is to get all roadways at the cemetery open in the next two or three weeks.

With files from Angela Walker.

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