Fallen tree buckles road, hits tombstones

Published: 7/16/2017 10:00 AM
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BY STEPHANIE BETTICK

THE NEWS-ITEM stephanie_b@newsitem.com

SPRINGFIELD — Nearly 36 hours of rain Thursday and Friday created the perfect storm to uproot a tree that landed on graves and toppled at least one headstone in St. Edward’s Cemetery.

“God bless the trees,” the Rev. Martin Kobos said Saturday after visiting the Coal Township cemetery. “They stand for as long as they can, but given age, like people, they start to fall down when they get old and if the roots are unsolid or the ground is saturated, the foundation gets compromised.”

As priest at Mother Cabrini Church in Shamokin, Kobos oversees the cemetery and said he learned of the fallen tree on Saturday from church personnel. He went to examine the damage for himself in the evening and said he only noticed one headstone that was hit by the tree.

“The way it fell, it seemed to ironically fall on top of the graves in a sense, so it could have been worse,” said Kobos, who noted the headstone that was knocked from its base didn’t appear to have damage to the stone itself.

He believes the amount of rain from recent storms, which exceeded 3 inches, caused the ground to become so saturated that the old tree gave way. At the base of the tree, the road split apart and cracked through the macadem, revealing the ground beneath it.

The fall occurred in an older section of the cemetery where there are no active burials, so Kobos said the damage shouldn’t affect funeral traffic. Those wishing to visit a loved one may find the road blocked until the issue is addressed.

With the incident occurring over the weekend, Kobos was unable to reach the risk management office at the diocese, but said he intends on calling first thing Monday to seek guidance. He said they will direct him through the insurance process so cemetery workers are able to clear the tree and repair the road and headstone.

Knowing curiosity may drive people to view the damage firsthand, Kobos asks that they be respectful of private property.

“It is sacred ground and people should use common sense with taking appropriate precautions with safety,” he said.

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