Contractors begin removal of flood debris from a Houston neighborhood after Hurricane Harvey on Sept. 8, 2017. (FEMA photo)

Cemeteries Host Rebuilding Workshops After Hurricane Harvey Topples Headstones

Hurricane Harvey damaged more than just homes, roads and bridges in 2017 – the storm impacted historic and cultural resources as well, including many hundreds of cemeteries and gravestones across Texas.

At Houston’s Olivewood Cemetery and Corpus Christi’s Old Bayview Cemetery, headstones and grave markers were broken, toppled and soiled from falling limbs broken loose by Harvey. Trees and landscaping were damaged by high winds and standing water.

In order to help restore these culturally significant sites, and to build capacity against future disasters, FEMA’s Interagency Recovery Coordination (IRC) group helped organize cemetery restoration workshops aimed at training Texans on cemetery restoration and maintenance.

“The workshops will go a long way not just for disaster preparedness and response, but for preservation efforts in general,” said Carlyn Hammons of the Texas Historical Commission’s (THC) Cemetery Preservation Program.

Presentations included information and activities on disaster preparedness plans, fixing landscape damage, vegetation removal and stone monument cleaning and repair.

In all, 64 municipal city planners, cemetery managers, church sextons, cemetery grounds workers and family members attended the workshops.

There are about 50,000 cemeteries, large and small, across the state of Texas. Most of these sites don’t get the maintenance and attention they deserve, said THC Cemetery Program Director Jenny McWilliams. “Training like this is valuable, especially regarding preparedness. It’s good to get folks thinking ahead.”

Read more at FEMA

The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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