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2 historic north St. Louis cemeteries hit hard by recent storm damage

"I had no idea all those trees fell at those cemeteries. I pray that they can clean up and will be all right," said one neighbor.

ST. LOUIS — Drive down West Florissant Avenue near Union Boulevard in north city and you will see two cemeteries with rich history in St. Louis.

The privately owned Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum was founded 174 years ago.

Right next door, the 169-year-old Calvary Cemetery and Mausoleum is one of 17 cemeteries owned by the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

Both are now facing a major setback as a result of major storms a week ago.

"i didn't have any idea that the trees blew over in the graveyards," said Michelle McNeal.

Last Saturday afternoon the usual, peaceful grounds rattled with thunder, lightning and powerful winds.

The storm uprooted and snapped massive, century-year old trees in half, scattering debris across both cemeteries.

Officials at Calvary estimate they lost "about 100 trees."

Bellefontaine said the storms destroyed "nearly 40 significant trees and 100 smaller ones" at their cemetery.

"And that's kind of very sad because now we can't take flowers over there," said Michelle McNeal.

McNeal's husband is buried at Calvary.

"His mother chose this, so it's closer to like family. I live down the street," said Michelle McNeal.

Initially, when the storm hit, Calvary and Bellefontaine officials say the damage made several roads impassable and unsafe to travel.

In a statement he sent to his staff, Monsignor Dennis Delaney, the executive director of Catholic Cemeteries said "the out-team of grounds-men will be at Calvary. If necessary, we will bring some of the south grounds-men north to assist in restoration."

Sherry Smith, the president of Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum said "as a Level III. arboretum, we mourn the loss of these majestic trees and have plans to replant as soon as possible. Our staff and partners are working diligently to restore the beauty of our cemetery."

"My prayer for both cemetery is that they clean it up and everything will be all right," said Michelle McNeal.

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