Cemetery Disaster Training

In 2017, Hurricane Harvey devastated numerous Texas counties, destroying or heavily damaging the built and natural environment. Historic cemeteries were among the casualties, suffering from damage caused by high winds and flooding. Gravestone in Rockport Cemetery damaged by Hurricane Harvey

In March 2019, the Texas Historical Commission (THC) received a grant from the National Park Service’s Emergency Supplemental Historic Preservation Fund to address the consequences of Hurricane Harvey on historic properties. Among the projects made possible by this grant funding is one which focuses on training stewards of historic cemeteries to better prepare for and respond to future disasters. 

THC, through our primary contractor Terracon, is developing a training package for disaster preparedness and response for historic cemeteries. The overall goal for this project is to provide caretakers of historic cemeteries with the knowledge and skills necessary to assess risks; prevent or minimize hurricane disaster-related damages; prioritize and carry-out post-disaster stabilization and response work; and to generally build greater resiliency to withstand and recover from disasters. The primary focus of this effort are cemeteries located in the region impacted by Hurricane Harvey (see green shaded counties on this map).

To help us meet these goals, Terracon will develop a series of training webinars and videos that will address the fundamental actions cemetery caretakers can take to safeguard the valuable cultural landscapes under their care. To make sure the training content is as helpful and relevant as possible, Terracon and THC will solicit information about Harvey-related impacts from cemetery caretakers through direct communication (email or phone) and in a series of virtual public meetings.  


Episode 1 - Lay of the Land: Pre-Disaster Cemetery Orientation
Prepare for an emergency situation by getting back to basics. Attend this presentation to gain a better understanding of the significance of historic cemeteries and the importance of building a base of community support before disaster strikes.
        This event was held live on October 26, 2021. View the recording here.
        Also available: Resources List and the Presentation Slides

Episode 2 - Cemetery Survey & Data Collection: Pre-Disaster Documentation
In this webinar, learn the importance of pre-disaster documentation and how to do it. Get tips for creating, maintaining, and storing all types of documentation, including burial records, maps, inventories, condition assessments, and photographs.
        This event was held live on November 16, 2021. View the recording here.
        Download the handouts from this webinar:

Coming Up in Early 2022...

  • Episode 3 – Risk Assessment & Pre-Disaster Planning
  • Episode 4 – Immediate Response to Natural Disasters, plus Preservation Funding
  • Episode 5 – Post-Disaster Recovery & Restoration
  • Episode 6 – People’s Choice! That’s right, the content of the final episode will be developed based on your feedback. Reach out to us and let us know what disaster-related topic areas you want to know more about. What would be most helpful to you?


Be an active participant in our planning process by engaging in conversations about how the historic cemeteries you care about were impacted by Hurricane Harvey or other natural disasters; what the recovery process looked like; and what challenges still exist. These meetings are interactive, and your input will help shape the content of the training webinars.

  • Public meetings were held August 3 and December 8. Four additional public meetings will be held in 2022.
  • If you are interested in the program but are not able to participate in these meetings, you can submit any comments or questions or request presentation material via email at ESHPF_Cemetery@thc.texas.gov.


Was your cemetery impacted by Hurricane Harvey or other recent natural disaster? We want to hear from you. Send us an email and a team member will follow up. Learning more about your cemetery disaster experience will help us develop the most relevant content possible.