Edinburgh cemetery damaged by Tuesday night storms

EDINBURGH, Ind. (WISH) — Crews spent all day Wednesday cleaning up the Rest Haven cemetery after strong storms toppled nearly 70 trees on the property.

“It’s raining and they’re wet…I’m sure they’re already wore out,” Rest Haven manager, John Hoskinson, said.

Crews from multiple Edinburgh departments joined forces to help the cemetery clear the trees from tombstones.

Strong winds knocked down trees that have stood in the cemetery since before Hoskinson started working there, 24 years ago. The uprooted trees even tore up sections of blacktop before coming down on top of headstones.

“The storms we’ve had that have taken down some trees. We’ve been able to clean them up within a day or maybe two days, but this is the worst we ever had,” Hoskinson said.

Hoskinson hopes to have the cemetery cleaned up and repaired by Memorial Day.

“We’ve got a lot of clean up right before Memorial Day. We usually try and make the place look as good as you can make a cemetery look right before Memorial Day.” said Hoskinson.

Many families visited the cemetery to check on their relatives’ graves on Wednesday, but most people couldn’t get through because many of the roads were closed. Hoskinson closed roads throughout the cemetery because trees were down across the roads, or branches were dangling lose, putting visitors in danger if the branches were to fall.

Beverly Bensheimer watched the storm develop Tuesday night.

“The clouds rolled in, and the hail started and the wind started. It was scary now, let me tell you,” Bensheimer said.

When the storm died down, she immediately thought of loved ones in Rest Haven.

“I came down here to check out the damage and try and get back to the stone of my father to see if it’s still standing,” Sandra Barrett said.

Barrett was able to walk to walk to her dad’s grave. She said she found pieces of his tombstone broken.

“There’s trees everywhere. It’s terrible,” Barrett said.

Bensheimer said she’s just glad everyone is safe.

“I feel very blessed, very blessed. We’re all good Christians and we kind of hang in there together,” Bensheimer said.

Damage to the tombstones is not covered under the town of Edinburgh’s liability insurance policy. The town’s insurance company says a claim might only be valid, if the town already knew one of the toppled trees was dead and didn’t cut it down. Otherwise, coverage depends on each family’s personal insurance policy, because grave markers are personal property.

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