Replanting Our Park: An Update on Cedar Memorial’s Post-Derecho Progress

August 10, 2020 is a date that holds significance to nearly every Cedar Rapidian today. This was the day that our city was devastated by a derecho consisting of straight-line winds that reached up to 140 miles per hour—comparable to a category four hurricane. 

In less than an hour, the entire city lost power, most roads were blocked by debris, and an estimated 65 percent of the city’s tree canopy was uprooted and depleted. 

Despite the existing challenges posed by the pandemic, our community banded together to reclaim our homes and the places that mattered to us. For many, that included Cedar Memorial Park Cemetery. 

Assessing the Damage

Scattered across Cedar Memorial’s 80 acres were around 300 fallen trees, various debris, and one 85-year-old Masonic obelisk. The statue was first installed in 1935 and stood 36 feet tall, marking the section of the park where members of the Masonic order and Eastern Star were laid to rest.

Fortunately, the interment rights and the Chapel of Memories Mausoleum received minimal damage. This is attributed to founder Carl K. Linge’s investment in the Chapel of Memories structure, and the Cemetery Park Plan—flush bronze memorials instead of upright stones.

Replanting for the Future

Our grounds crew, accompanied by generous volunteers, worked hard to clean up in the weeks following the storm. They removed trees to unblock roadways and cleaned debris from each area of the park. People returned to visit loved ones, replace flowers, and spend time peacefully reflecting. Slowly the park begins to feel normal again.

While restoring what was lost will be a larger, lengthier endeavor—we are committed to preserving the serene and natural environment that so many chose as a final resting place. 

Since the storm, we continue to plant 75-100 trees each year to replenish our tree coverage. To best capture the original environment, we strive to plant the same species of trees that were lost. 

We will also be replacing the Masonic obelisk with a reinforced one in hopes of protecting it from severe storms in the future. We continue to work with granite manufacturers and contractors for this monument.

A Nod to Our Community

In Cedar Memorial’s 93 years, we have witnessed the people of Cedar Rapids face many hardships. And each time, friends, neighbors, and total strangers band together for the greater good. This is just one of the reasons that Cedar Memorial is grateful, proud, and inspired to be part of this community.

To follow along with our post-derecho initiatives, you can follow us on Facebook or check our website for updates.


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