Clean Up Continues At Historic Pass Cemetery

The caretaker for historic "Live Oak Cemetery" in Pass Christian, considered quitting his job when he first saw the damage inflicted by Hurricane Katrina.

Instead, Charlie Seymour took on the enormous challenge of removing countless trees and straightening hundreds of tomb stones.

The clean up is ongoing and the caretaker could use a little help.

Katrina's floodwater rolled through Live Oak Cemetery like a washing machine gone berserk. Nearly five months later, stone monuments are misplaced and majestic trees are missing.

"Half the trees were on the ground. We probably lost thirty percent of our trees. You used to be able to walk in here and never get out of the shade. Now, it's going to be a hot summer I tell you," said caretaker Charlie Seymour.

"The surge came in and back out," he explained, pointing to a batch of post storm pictures.

That surge dumped a Pass police car among the graves. It lifted ten ton stones like bath tub toys.

"This here was like a four pillar with a vase on top. And there were three crypts behind there," he said, pointing to the snapshot.

Seymour has reset dozens of stones himself. Technically, families are responsible for maintaining plots and stones.

But there's a problem.

"The problem we have is with the older families that have been gone maybe a hundred years and we have no idea where their descendants are. And we just don't have the money to fix all those monuments," said Dayton Robinson, who chairs the cemetery committee.

The caretaker is slowly making progress on a job that will take many months. The place is filled with heritage and history.

"George Washinton's niece is buried here. We've got several senators, governors, past mayors," said Seymour.

Along with resetting markers and monuments, trees are some of the biggest challenges. Seymour needs someone with heavy equipment to help remove dozens of giant stumps.

Volunteers are welcome, if they're willing to work.

"Just come in if you've got a few minutes. I'll give you something to do. Believe me, we've got a lot," the caretaker explained.

Seymour is happy those he cares for have plenty of time. He says it could be five years before the cemetery is back to normal.

Live Oak Cemetery is located behind Trinity Episcopal Church, which owns the cemetery.

Charlie Seymour says about a dozen caskets were unearthed up by the storm. So far, only three are unaccounted for.