Hurricane Ian devastated many people we loved, even some we thought we had laid to rest long ago. Several Charlotte County cemeteries were damaged in the storm, causing them to close for months.
High winds brought down trees, which toppled headstones and even unearthed graves.
On Monday, there was a light breeze, birds chirping, and peace and quiet at the places where souls are laid to rest. Two and a half months ago, four Charlotte County cemeteries were no longer a place of solitude.
“It has never happened at this magnitude before.” Charlotte County Public Works Operations Supervisor Kenna Hubai said the cemeteries were bombarded by Hurricane Ian’s rain and wind.
“Just like the rest of the community. We sustained significant wind damage, which resulted in a lot of downed trees, overturn headstones. We had some uprooted graves and damaged bolts. And our equipment shed out of Indian Spring was completely destroyed. I mean, it was splintered into pieces,” said Hubai.
Charlotte County cemetery damage. (Credit: WINK News)
The county had no option but to close the Lieutenant Carl A Bailey, Hickory Bluff,
Indian Spring, and Southland Trail cemeteries.
Eighty families were alerted to the heartbreaking news that their loved ones’ headstones were down.
“A lot of them [were] appreciative, and a lot of them are appreciative of the information and working to get those stood upright as quickly as possible,” Hubai said.
Then there are the crews on the ground who are working around the graves to get things cleaned up fast.
“You know there is a difference that they all show and respect and such care. One being out in the cemeteries in general. Watching this, watching them work from where we were to where we are now. It’s kind of an evolution,” said Hubai.
It is all so the people who laid their loved ones to rest in a place of peace can visit once again.
All cemeteries reopened Friday except for Southland Trail. Hubai said that location needs more work and hopes to have it open again soon.
The county wants to remind people to be cautious if they go and visit a loved one at any cemetery. There are still overturned headstones, and crews have cleared as many safety concerns as possible.