NIAGARA FALLS, NY - Pete Ames awoke Saturday morning to find his cemetery in shambles.
"It was devastating," Ames said, hours after the storm ravaged the historic Oakwood Cemetery, where he serves as a secretary on the Board of Directors.
On Facebook, the cemetery posted an "urgent" plea for volunteers. The storm's powerful winds had knocked trees down and left limbs scattered across the cemetery. In all, Ames said the damages probably totaled "thousands of dollars."
This was going to be a big cleanup.
"We can use all the help we can get," Ames said on Saturday.
By Sunday, his wish had come true.
"People have been coming from all over to help us out," Ames said.
A few dozen volunteers gave up their Sunday to help dispose of debris at the cemetery, including people from the Boys and Girls Club, families of the deceased in the cemetery and two representatives from a neighboring cemetery. Ames estimates it will probably take much of the rest of the week to finish the work, but at least the volunteers helped him get started.
They're trying to get everything back to normal by Aug. 3, when the cemetery will host the "Angels of Oakwood" even to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the mausoleum.
There's one thing that can't be fixed, though.
"Unfortunately, most of the trees that were damaged were the older, large trees," Ames said. "Couldn't knock down a dead tree. Had to pick on the living ones, unfortunately."