Families call for city to save deteriorating historic Holt Cemetery
Posted on August 23, 2013 at 9:28 PM
Updated Friday, Aug 23 at 9:40 PM
NEW ORLEANS -- One of New Orleans oldest cemeteries continues to sit disheveled and unkempt. Family after family return to pay their respects to loved ones only to find city-owned Holt Cemetery in shambles.
"My grandmother, Irma Williams; my momma, Andre Mae Baptiste Charles. This is a family plot," said Milani Dupre', pointing out her family's grave site.
The hallowed ground dates back to 1896. It is where the dead have been laid to rest for centuries.
Dupre' visits several generations of her family at their Holt Cemetery plot. Recently in from California --- she was appalled to see its deteriorating condition.
"I don't even know if those are graves. Bones on top. There's no dignity," said Dupre'.
The New Orleans native says she paid a grave digger $1,000 to fix up her family's plot. She returned this week to discover nothing had been done. Dupre' walked around the city-owned cemetery and also spotted what she believes are unearthed human remains.
That is when she decided to call Eyewitness News.
"The city, the mayor, if you don't know about this place you need find out. This is not okay. This is not okay for all the people who come here," said Dupre'.
"I don't know the difference if this is my family plot? Or this is my family plot? I kind of go by this tree," said Anthony Roberts. He was joined by his wife Juliet. The couple make the trek from New Orleans East to the cemetery to pay their respects to loved ones now gone.
"I'm gonna have to come and dig a hole in it," said Roberts, turning his Korean War veteran dad's tombstone right side up. The process has become a frustrating tradition.
"My grandfather, my grandmother, my brother -- the last one that passed, everybody buried here. After Tuesday is my momma's funeral," said Roberts.
On Friday night, the couple stopped by to figure out where Anthony's 85-year-old mother who just passed away will be buried. Surveying the Holt Cemetery in their grief was more troubling than normal.
"Take a look around it's like a junkyard. It's sad," said Roberts. For those left behind to grieve those no longer with us, a heart felt plea to the city from a daughter that doesn't want her mother or others buried at the historic cemetery forgotten.
"Now I'm here to fix my momma's grave. I'm gonna come back. I'm going to fight this. Something has to be done. These people should not be lost," said Dupre'.
In response to our story, the city says it will begin repairs to Holt Cemetery starting next week.
The $450,000 FEMA recovery project will include the construction of a new perimeter fence, new maintenance cottage and grounds repairs.