Iowa Cemeteries Need Help With Derecho Repairs
Imagine going to see a loved one at a local cemetery and finding their headstone or marker several damaged. That is the story at many local cemeteries following the August 10th derecho. Trees toppled. Headstones blown over and broken. More than two months after the storm, clean-up efforts are still underway and more help is needed.
Seth Staashelm is the interim parks and recreation director for the city of Marion. He told KCRG that between 30 and 50% of the trees in Oak Shade Cemetery in Marion are a complete loss. The city owns the cemetery, so safety is a major issue. Staalshelm said that with so many trees damaged and the liability issues involved, the cemetery roads were closed for a while. Those roads are now back open, but caution is still urged as crew still try and access damages.
Staashelm also urged people who have relatives with damaged headstones to contact their homeowners insurance. He told KCRG that if your coverage doesn't include headstones, you can contact The Friends of Oak Shade Cemetery. The group is helping to pay some of the costs of repairs, if those who are buried don't have family members that can help.
KCRG notes that the damage situation is very similar at Oak Hill Cemetery in Cedar Rapids. State law says that these cemeteries can no access their perpetual care funds to help recover from a disaster. Carl Thoerson, Oak Hill's superintendent, says they're talking with their insurance commissioner as well as the city. He noted that volunteers have stepped up and provided much need funds too.