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’This is like burying them all over again’: Developer blamed for Oakland Cemetery flooding

Pulte Homes developers says its committed to finding permanent solution to drainage issue

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – A historic Oakland cemetery flooded after a rainstorm overnight into Monday morning brought at least 4 inches of rain.

The Tildenville Oakland Cemetery was established in 1947 and is home to generations of local families.

“I have my sister out here, my mother, my grandmother, my aunts, my uncles-- everybody out here,” said Deborah Fryar.

Fryar was wiping her tears after seeing that many of her family members' burial grounds were underwater at the Tildenville Oakland Cemetery after the Sunday storms.

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“This is like burying them all over again,” said Fryar. “Nobody should have to go through this. It’s very emotional.”

Families tell News 6 they’ve never seen flooding like this. Some of the caskets were floating out of the water. They are putting the blame on faulty drainage from the new Pulte Homes Longleaf housing development next door.

Sharon Ranson is the president of the board that oversees the cemetery and said the storm water is supposed to go to a retention pond on the other side of the new development but is ending up in the cemetery.

“Now the cemetery is a retention pond," Ranson said. “It’s because of the poor drainage, Pulte subdivision doesn’t want to take care of the problem.”

[WATCH BELOW: Graves underwater as Oakland cemetery floods]

The developer, Pulte Homes, called crews to pump some of the water out of the cemetery.

“They come out and pump the cemetery to drain the water. That is not going to fix this problem,” said Ranson.

Pulte Homes sent a statement to News 6 on Tuesday.

“Following the tremendous rainstorms that happened overnight and the resulting flooding discovered at the site this morning, our development team quickly implemented actions to remove standing water. Today, we also met with the town and the water management district to discuss long-term actions to address the flood-prone nature of the area, and have additional meetings scheduled to work towards a more permanent solution. While our community is not the source of the water, we share in the community’s commitment to preserving this historic site and being good neighbors where we build," the statement read.

Families just want a permanent solution to the drainage problem so their family members can rest in peace.

“Ridiculous, we have to pay the price for them to be at peace, just because they want to build a subdivision," Fryar said. “This is wrong.”

Below is the statement the Town of Oakland sent to News 6.

"The Oakland-Tildenville Cemetery is experiencing flooding due to significant rainfall.

The Town takes this matter very seriously, as the Oakland-Tildenville Cemetery is a resting place for our community’s beloved family members.

Pulte, the owner of the neighboring development and adjacent road, is currently pumping water from the cemetery. Town staff is on scene offering emergency assistance to the developer. Due to the serious and sensitive nature of this flooding issue, the Town has called upon the developer to swiftly work on a permanent solution. Pulte Homes has expressed it is committed to providing a permanent solution to the flooding.

The Town recorded 4.14 inches of rainfall in approximately two hours, with 3 inches coming down between 8 and 9 p.m. [Sunday] night. The ground had already been saturated from more than 4 inches of rain during the past month, and low-lying areas were inundated when the summer storm passed through.

The Town experienced significant flash flooding last night, washing out some of our unpaved roads."


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