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'There are no words': Marshalltown cemetery in shambles following derecho

Trees are snapped, monuments are toppled and vaults are exposed in the historic Riverside Cemetery.

MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa — A week has passed since a deadly derecho tore across Iowa. 

The storm left behind severe damage through most of central Iowa, including Marshalltown, a city that now faces a similar scenario like that of the 2018 EF-3 tornado.

On the north side of the city, Riverside Cemetery barely missed the tornado two years ago, but was not as lucky this time.

"All I could think back then was how horrible it would have been if it had come through here ... and well, it basically did," said Dorie Tammen, the general manager at Riverside.

The historic cemetery first opened in 1863 and is now home to over 23,000 burials. 

From veterans to magicians, almost everyone in Marshall County has some sort of connection to this iconic place.

Debris now covers nearly every inch of the cemetery grounds, as trees were snapped, monuments and markers were displaced and in some cases, vaults were even left exposed. 

One of the monuments that suffered significant damage was a tribute to Marshalltown's well-known Hellberg family. 

With wind speeds reaching nearly 100 miles per hour in the city of Marshalltown during the derecho, the monument was sheared into several pieces.

"It's hard to see this monument come down," Vic Hellberg said about the monument paying homage to much of his extended family. 

Cleanup crews are now working 13 hours a day and seven days a week to help restore the cemetery to its original glory. 

Despite the long hours, it's a massive undertaking that could take up to several weeks.

"We can go into towns and clean them up really fast," said Jeremy Adkins of Top Notch Tree Care. "But like I said, this is all hands-on work... a lot of it." 

Cemetery leaders say they'll do everything they can to reset and repair markers or small gravestones, but the bigger monuments will require professional attention.

Having the larger memorials fixed or replaced is a responsibility that normally falls on the plot owners.

In some cases, insurance companies may be able to help them out.

Riverside Cemetery is a nonprofit organization, meaning they'll rely on donations and government assistance to make the restoration possible. 

It's estimated that the entire process could take several years and will likely cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

Visitors are also asked to refrain from coming to the cemetery grounds until the cleanup process is complete. 

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WATCH: Complete derecho coverage from Local 5 on YouTube

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