Work begins on damaged graves at Fort Bliss National Cemetery

EL PASO, Texas - Esther Faison is a frequent visitor to the Fort Bliss National Cemetery to see her father's grave.

Last week's rain damaged more than 1,300 graves at Fort Bliss National Cemetery.

"This is just a phenomenon of God with the rains. There's not much more they could have done," said Esther Faison, daughter of a veteran buried at the cemetery.

She sees a divine purpose behind the flooding at the cemetery.

"It's brought out family members who hadn't been out here to visit their loved ones' graves," Faison said.

Fort Bliss cemetery officials estimate there were 10 times as many visitors to the cemetery on Monday compared to on normal weekdays.

Visitors checked on the headstones of their loved ones as crews began working to repair the damage.

Workers had to wait for the ground to dry over the weekend. They plan to work two hours of overtime each day this week and Saturday to repair the demage.

A cemetery spokesman said he expects the repairs to take about two weeks.

"The rain soaks the whole underground and what we have here are 250-pound headstones and caskets that weigh even more. An amount of rainfall of that much is going to sink graves no matter what the top layer of the cemetery is, whether it's xeriscape or grass." cemetery director Andrew Matthews said.

"It's time to stop pointing fingers and and blame, let's just move on and fix the problem," Faison said.

Storm 2006 affected about 3,000 of the cemetery's 50,000 graves.

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