Historic Cemetery Suffers Storm Damage

Storm's winds did thousands in damage.

By R. Stickney
|  Thursday, Dec 17, 2009  |  Updated 3:38 PM PDT
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Fort Rosecrans Storm Damage

Jim Grant

Winds from a recent storm caused major damage to the Fort Rosecrans cemetery.

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The strong winds of last week's powerful storm downed dozens of trees around Fort Rosecrans cemetery, causing up to $40,000 in damage.

Photojournalist Jim Grant lives in the Point Loma/Shelter Island area and noticed a huge fallen tree that had uprooted several headstones inside the cemetery and went back to check out the damage with his camera. He submitted the image to isee@nbcsandiego.com.

"I talked to the groundskeepers," Grant said. "They said the tree was 'at least' 80 years old."

According to the director Kirk Leopard, the cemetery is home to a number of non-native trees. Those were among the victims of the powerful winds that were kicked up in the storm on Dec. 7.

According to the cemetery gardener Dave Lee Stanford, with winds up to 50 mph gusts, a lot of the trees just couldn’t hold on and they fell over.

“Every winter, we have a substantial amount of trees go down but this was a pretty big storm,” Stanford said.

Managers had to dip in to the emergency fund to bring in contractors to clean up around 26 trees.

Some, like the one Grant captured with his camera, uprooted headstones. Grant said the old tree he spotted pulled up seven headstones that surrounded the root ball.

Picking up after a storm the size of the one that hit San Diego in early December could take weeks, according to Stanford.

"We've had a lot of gravestones turned over but they got lucky, none of the buildings were hit and there wasn’t a lot of damage done to the wall," he said.

As for whether the non-native trees will stay or go, Stanford said they're just trying to keep up with trimming branches and keeping pathways safe for visitors.

Situated in San Diego County on the Fort Rosecrans Military reservation, the cemetery is located approximately 10 miles west of San Diego, overlooking the bay and the city.  Many interments date to the early years of the California Territory. 

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