'It touched me:' Young sisters clean up P.E.I. cemetery after Dorian

Trina Chaisson wanted to check on her family members' tombstones on Monday to make sure they weren't damaged after Hurricane Dorian hit P.E.I.

She brought her two daughters, Paisley and Storm Adams, who accompany her regularly to visit the graves of Chaisson's mom, grandmother and uncles at St. Paul's cemetery in Summerside.

Chaisson said the girls were anxious to go eat lunch, but they changed their tune once they saw the mess of broken branches and splintered trees that littered the cemetery. 

"Paisley noticed that a lantern had fallen down," said Chaisson. "So she grabbed it and put it back up. And then from there it kind of snowballed."

Flowers for every grave

Chaisson said Paisley, 8, and Storm, 10, started running around the cemetery, gathering flowers and tidying up each grave. 

Submitted by Trina Chaisson

"I felt bad because everybody's flowers got knocked off and a lot of people's stuff was broken," said Storm.

Chaisson said they also noticed that some tombstones had flowers while others didn't. Paisley said she and her sister decided to evenly split up each bouquet so each grave would have some decoration.

"I like helping them," she said.  

"She said it was the people that she thought needed more love [was] where she was going to put more flowers," said Chaisson. 

"She got her big sister to help her and they kind of just ran all through the graveyard every which way, running back for more flowers because they couldn't carry them all at once."

Chaisson said it took her daughters an hour and a half to put everything back the way it was before the storm hit, during which they completely forgot about lunch.

"We were getting ready to leave and [Paisley] noticed there was a great big tree down on top of a grave," said Chaisson. "So she grabbed hold of that. She starts trying to yank it. And she's 50 pounds. And she couldn't move it at all so she got her sister Storm to come over … and they cleaned it up."

We just have to take a minute sometimes and think we're still here and things aren't as bad as we think they are.

— Trina Chaisson

Chaisson posted photos of the girls' efforts to Facebook and was amazed by the response.

"I was just overwhelmed. Some of the people said that they were crying tears of joy and … it really hit home."

She said people started to reach out to her after identifying family members' names in the photos, wanting to thank Paisley and Storm.

Act of kindness

"There was a grave for Donna Lee Clow … Paisley had fixed up the letters on the grave, and her daughter messaged me. She said that her mom passed away suddenly in June," said Chaisson.

Submitted my Trina Chaisson

"Just to know that Paisley and Storm made her feel good in a really horrible situation was just — it touched me more than anything I think."

Chaisson said she's proud her children initiated the cleanup and hopes it provides a brief moment of happiness amid Dorian's destruction.

"We just have to take a minute sometimes and think we're still here and things aren't as bad as we think they are," she said.

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