Volunteers spend Saturday removing tree debris following storm

Published 7:31 pm Monday, February 11, 2019

Amy Malone and five members of Boy Scout Troop 638 from Porter’s Chapel United Methodist Church were gathering limbs and branches in a section of the National Cemetery at the Vicksburg National Military Park.

It was late Saturday morning, and they had been going at it for a few hours.

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“We started at 8:30,” she said. “Everything’s been going pretty good. It’s starting to warm up.”

Malone and the scouts were part of a group of Boy Scouts, volunteers, AmeriCorps workers and park employees who ignored the 30-degree temperature and a stiff breeze to help clean up the cemetery, which has been closed since a Dec. 27 storm wreaked havoc in the cemetery, toppling and heavily damaging trees and scattering large limbs and branches.

“The storm on Dec. 27 came through and damaged over 30 trees in the cemetery, and a lot of them are the big old growth trees,” said Scott Babinowich, the park’s director of interpretation.

“We have limbs and trees down all over the cemetery. Just the scope of it is immense.

“We asked for community help; we asked for volunteers and we had over 50 people show up to lend a helping hand.”

Babinowich said the volunteers were gathering and moving the branches and limbs and putting them along the cemetery road where they would be picked up for disposal.

“Our maintenance crews have spent the last two weeks just cutting logs in place, that’s how much damage there is,” he said. “We’re hopeful with a little more work, we’ll be able to open the cemetery again once we get the snags out of the trees.

“There’s still a lot of branches hanging in the trees. We wanted to make sure there wasn’t any danger to visitors with broken limbs above them.

“We’re hopeful with this tremendous turnout that we’ll make some good progress.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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