Landscaping will finish the job at Biloxi city cemetery. Workers are sprucing up the final resting grounds. Yard work is the easy part.
Once toppled stones are now upright and in proper position. The links to the past were haphazardly scattered by Katrina's wind and water.
"It's extremely important," said project director Don Reynolds of Reynolds Monument, "Everything that Biloxi is today is here. You know, it started here with these people."
The $300,000 cemetery project returned the stones to their proper places and restored the respect the sacred spot deserves.
"There's a lot of history out here. This is Biloxi. The Lopez's behind you, they were one of the big seafood families in town," said Reynolds.
Re-setting dozens of tombstones took more than a strong back. Old photographs and memories helped workers return the historic cemetery to its pre-storm position.
"We actually had to match concrete patterns with concrete patterns, where the stones were actually glued together. It was like a big jigsaw puzzle," he explained.
One crowning achievement of the project was the reconstruction of the Reynoir crypt, which sits front and center at the south side of the cemetery. Katrina demolished the monument, scattering pieces throughout the cemetery.
"The Reynoir tomb. It actually took us four or five days just to identify the pieces and where they went," Reynolds explained.
The time consuming, labor intensive project is nearly finished. Wrought iron must still be added to the brick wall out front. Fresh sod will cover the bare ground.
"We spent a lot of man hours out here. It's been a challenge trying to piece everything together."
The project involved much more than stone work and landscaping. Katrina disrupted the remains of several bodies buried at the old city cemetery. The coroner helped make certain those were returned to their proper burial spots.