Cemetery on City Property Locked Down for G-8

Security made it difficult for family to visit a father's grave.
Security made it difficult for family to visit a father's grave.

Security is tight around Savannah because of the G-8 summit. National Guardsmen are on many street corners. All kinds of police agencies are patrolling the streets, and high-profile buildings are gated off. Things are locked down from River Street to Forsyth Park, and all the city, state, and federal buildings in between.

The lockdown took an emotional toll on two women, who were locked out of a local cemetery on their dead father's birthday. Delia and Anna Flores lost their father, Fernando Santos, two years ago. Yesterday was his birthday.

"It's just hard, his birthday meant so much to him," Delia told us. "He knew we would be there to celebrate."

Delia says she never missed a birthday. This year, she ran into a problem at the Cherokee Hill Cemetery in Savannah, which is on city property and borders the city water plant. "I went there twice, no one was there," Delia said. "I called the city and they told me I couldn't get in because of the G-8 summit."

We accompanied Delia as she returned to the cemetery, emotional and determined to get in. "I understand this is a high-security area because of the airport and the water plant," she said. "I'm not illiterate, I'm not crazy. I just want to visit my father's grave, even if someone escorts me, so I can lay flowers there."

An exception was made. Delia and Anna kept their birthday promise to their father. Cemetery grave keeper Charles Russell says he would have let the ladies in, but it wasn't his call. "We're not keeping them from the cemetery, I'm just following orders."

And Delia followed her heart. She and Anna wished her father happy birthday, laying flowers on his grave. She thanked WTOC for helping her get the exception. "You guys stood in front of me and pushed so I could get in," she said. "It's a relief. We just wanted him to know we will never forget him."

But very few exceptions are being granted. Delia is one of the lucky ones. At most of the buildings being blocked off, if you don't have ID, you won't get in.

Reported by: Don Logana, dlogana@wtoc.com