by Lee Maltenfort
Bonaventure Historical Society held its annual meeting on November 3rd and the featured speaker was Richard Gerbasi, the Director of Cemeteries. He gave a detailed explanation of what is happening now at Bonaventure Cemetery and when we can expect it will reopen to the general public.When a rapid assessment of the damaged was completed, it turns out:
- There were over 700 hanging limbs that had to be removed from the cemetery;
- Over 1300 cubic yards of debris were removed from just two sections of the historic district’s eight sections;
- 87 lots in the cemetery suffered damage, and there may be more as more debris is removed;
- and the cedars populating the cemetery suffered the greatest damage. Some with trunks of 30″ diameter or greater were snapped like toothpicks by the winds.
Complicating the removal of hanging limbs is the tightness of the tree canopy. So many trees are so close together that the only way to remove the limbs is to capture them from above by crane, affix a rope, cut the limb and then lower the roped limb to the ground so it doesn’t affect neighboring trees or plants and doesn’t damage monuments. That takes a lot of time, compared to the more common technique of cutting the limb and letting it fall to the ground.
There are still 19 large trees, called leaners, in the cemetery, and 10 of them are in the historic section. Each of them has to be addressed separately to determine if and how the tree can be saved. In one instance there are two trees that are leaning against each other, presenting a greater challenge than the other eight do.
So when does Bonaventure reopen to the public?
With good luck, all the stars in alignment and work progressing without any unforeseen delays, probably just before Thanksgiving. Keep an eye on our social media sites for more updates.
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