The restoration group that looks after a historic south-end Halifax cemetery is heartbroken that their years of hard work has been undone by vandals, but they’re also happy with the turnout of volunteers offering to help clean up.

The group is calling for the cemetery to have better security so this does not happen again.

Allan Murphy’s father is a war veteran who is buried in the cemetery. He was relieved to see that his father’s headstone was not damaged.

“I’m sure he wouldn’t like to see the guys that he tried to save come and destroy tombstones here,” Murphy said.

Greg Murphy was not as lucky – his uncle’s tombstone was knocked to the ground.

“It’s just senseless, there’s no need of it,” he said.

It’s difficult for Brian O’Brien to see all the damage, knowing that his volunteer group has spent thousands of hours restoring the site. But his face lit up Thursday when a Saint Mary’s student dropped by, offering to help.

“Here he was, all by himself. He came on his own initiative and he’s volunteered to help,” O’Brien said. “That really is a great thing for us.”

“I was pretty mad,” said Tarou Scott. “I live right by it, and I walk by it all the time to get to school so it definitely hit home and that’s why I decided to come out and help.”

O’Brien says he’s hoping to see even more new faces on Saturday when the volunteers begin to pick up the pieces.

“Many of the stones cannot be repaired by us, but we’ll do what we can in a positive way to repair the ones that at least can be stood up so they’re not lying on the ground through the winter,” he said.

The volunteer group says they would like to see the area made more secure. The main gates are never locked, but some worry locking them could lead to more problems.

“If the gate was locked and there was a fire, it considerably would reduce the time the fire department would have to respond,” said Peter Browne.

Some have suggested motion-detector lights. For now, the focus is on fixing the more than 70 broken tombstones.

“It’s such unique damage that (we’re) not sure if it’s going to cost $5,000 or $500,000,” said Browne.

The group expects to have a better idea of the cost when an insurance expert inspects the damage on Friday.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Matt Woodman