Minnesota Cemeteries Struggling With Cold, Snow

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This bitter winter is affecting all parts of life — even death.

State officials said Minnesota cemeteries are struggling with cold and snow, and that has made performing proper burials more difficult.

“Some cemeteries are struggling in southern Minnesota where the snow drifts are so high, they can’t see the headstones,” said Ron Gjerde, the executive director of the Minnesota Association of Cemeteries. “The fear is that if they bring heavy equipment into plow the snow, they will knock over those monuments.”

Once the snow is cleared, the other, more difficult digging begins: Piercing eight to 10 inches of frost-hardened ground.

“They have two options, use either a frost hook mounted on a backhoe or thaw the ground using heat from propane,” Gjerde said. “With the skyrocketing price of propane, those cemeteries are feeling the pinch.”

Minnesota has a ‘Winter Burial Law’ that requires cemeteries make burials so far as possible, even in winter. In some cases, the brutal cold has changed the way people arrange the internment of cremated remains.

“Unless you have a nice warm niche in a mausoleum, most families are going to defer internment until the spring,” Gjerde said.

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