Forestvale Cemetery is continuing to clear damage and debris from November windstorm

Posted at 5:26 PM, Dec 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-13 16:34:30-05

HELENA — About a month ago, Helena was hit by a powerful windstorm that felled trees and damaged property, and at Forestvale Cemetery they're still recovering from it.

As you drive through the entrance of Forestvale Cemetery you are met with fallen trees and scattered branches.

Forestvale Cemetery supervisor, Bob Richards, says this is by far the most trees he's seen taken down by a storm ever since he's worked there. So many, in fact, that he stopped keeping track.

"At least 25. I quit count at 25 because there are so many bundled together that once they hit that me, I just knew it was just going to be a lot so once as we get cleaned up and, and things like that will have to, you know, obviously count and map them out," said Richards.

Richards says they've cleared out around 10 to 11 trees on their own so far and they are working to get in equipment to clear the remaining trees, but it's expensive and takes time.

"The equipment itself is going to be about $5,000 to $10,000, just accessories for the equipment we have now. But it came to be about $10,000 for that. So once that's in that's about the damage," said Richards.

Some of the trees that came down are huge, and when they came down they damaged gravestones and blocked roads, but the cold and snowy November and December have slowed progress. Freezing the debris to the ground and in the tree's root balls.

"Kind of have to wait until the ground starts thawing a little better till we get a warm snap," said Richards," and some of those root balls just because we don't want the ground to chunk out as much close to the stones kind of worry about damage any other stones or any of the, you know, irrigation system that's underneath the ground as well."