Dilapidated historic Carrollton cemeteries get long-awaited repa - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Dilapidated historic Carrollton cemeteries get long-awaited repairs

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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -

Crumbling tombstones and weed-covered pathways plague the historic cemeteries in the Carrollton area.

"It really looks like it was run over by a tractor trailer in some places," said Earlyn Erabino.

Erabino stepped through weeds reclaiming the pathway that leads to the site of her grandparents', her parents' and her brother's grave.

"This isn't respected. It's overgrown, and it's a mess," said Erabino.

Erabino was back at Carrollton Cemetery for the first time in 25 years. She moved to New Jersey after growing up in New Orleans.

Erabino said she and her mother used to tend the family grave site every All Saints Day, "and it was so well maintained," she said. "I just walked around the whole place and it's upside down graves - it's really in very bad shape."

Fresh memorial flowers blended in with a forest of towering weeds that revealed historic tombstones as wind passed through the Carrollton Cemetery on Greene Street.

A few blocks away at the St. Mary Cemetery, graves crumbled onto the sidewalk across the street from Michael Bognola's home.

"I think when a person is buried, the family wants to know that they're taken care of, and this is not so much taken care of," said Bognola.

On Tuesday, city-contracted workers were in the midst of replacing cries of neglect with a new sound: weed-whacking. Officials with the mayor's office said the grass-cutting is part of a $1.4 million upgrade for the cemeteries financed by City Bond and Capital funds and FEMA.

The mayor's office says a new iron and concrete wall will stand in place of the old chain-link fences, damaged plot frames will be removed and replaced, and a new maintenance cottage will house mowing and other equipment.

It's a project many of Councilwoman Susan Guidry's constituents in the Carrollton neighborhood have been begging for since she took office.

"At first we could not put any money in the budget for the cemeteries," said Guidry. "Now, the mayor understands the importance of it. I've been advocating for it, and we basically cobbled the money together."

"It's going to be a matter of the upkeep," said Guidry. "We'll be looking to always be budgeting for this."

Officials from the mayor's office said the project should be complete this summer, and the contracted workers are taking extra precautions not to disturb the remains.

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