Monday, December 13, 2021

Cemetery Remains Closed for Extended Time:
Le Roy Cemetery Sees Extensive Tree Damage from Saturday's Wind Storm

By Ben Beagle-ben@batavianews.com
As the small crew worked to clean up Le Roy’s Machpelah Cemetery, 71 North St., on Sunday afternoon they could hear the sounds of tree limbs cracking or falling in other locations in the cemetery, and some fallen limbs were still balancing precariously in trees around the cemetery.

But many tree limbs, including some two and three feet in diameter, had fallen in Saturday’s wind storm making some of the historic cemetery’s roads impassable.

“It’s the worst I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” said Sandy Parks, the cemetery’s caretaker and administrator the past three years.

Fallen branches had toppled some headstones and pillars were knocked off some markers. Those will likely be able to be reset and repaired, Parks said. Other markers may not be so fortunate as the heavy limbs turned stone markers into puzzle pieces.

The cemetery suffered such extensive tree damage that the cemetery was closed, and is expected to remain closed for an extended period of time.

“Some of these trees were hundreds of years old,” Parks said. In one section visible from North Avenue significant parts of two large trees had fallen from a more elevated part of the cemetery. A nearly two-foot branch appeared to have been ripped from the trunk. Large branches from one tree likely snapped off and crashed into another large tree that then split and fell across a distance of some 50 feet or more, blocking a road and also damaging a towering evergreen that may need to come down.

“The large tree, it split, just like a ‘Y’,” said Parks. The 25-acres park-like cemetery on the banks of the Oatka Creek opened in the mid-19th century and has been expanded since them. The cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.

Parks and an assistant estimated they had been working about seven hours as 1 p.m. approached on Sunday. They began in a lower part of the cemetery but changed locations after deciding the conditions where they were working were too dangerous with limbs still caught up in the trees and the conditions breezy.

Parks expected several days of work to get the cemetery roads cleared, and anticipated that some cleanup from the storm may be required in the spring. The National Weather Service said gusty winds between 25 and 40 mph were expected to continue Sunday with the strongest gusts near the lakes. The Weather Service cautioned people that if they were outside cleaning up after the windstorm, that the gusts [even into Monday] could knock any remaining loose tree limbs free.

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