Cemeteries damaged by fallen trees

PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - A number of trees toppled at two historic cemeteries in Petersburg due to Irene, causing gravestones to crack. 25 massive trees at Blandford and Peoples Cemeteries fell during the storm -- damaging headstones and disturbing the final resting place of many people.

The historic Blandford Cemetery is more than 300 years old. It's where Martha Atkinson's  grandparents are buried.

"Sadness to see the damage. I'm thankful to find my grandparents graves had not been damaged," said Atkinson.

More than 30,000 soldiers from the Civil War are buried at Blandford. The city says repairing the site will take months -- maybe longer.

"It's going to take a lot of work to put this back to the condition it should be in," said Petersburg spokeswoman, Joanne Williams.

The city will pay for historic headstones to be fixed. All others must be paid by loved ones of the deceased.

"They trees damaged historic gravestones and they pulled up curbing and street to restore those historic headstones you have to have a specialist," said Williams.

As for Atkinson she'd like to see the site the way it was.

"This place means a lot to me and my family and I hope some of the damaged trees and stones will be taken care of quickly," she added.

City leaders say the two cemeteries will be cleaned-up but they won't ever look the same.

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