OAKLAND, Fla. – Board members that oversee the Oakland-Tildenville Cemetery said there’s no plan of action yet on how the flooding situation will be rectified. A solution was supposed to be shared with families Tuesday evening, but the meeting was called off.
Gary Johnson was walking around the cemetery Tuesday. He was born in Oakland and has laid several family members to rest at the Oakland-Tildenville Cemetery.
“I came out to find my great-grandfather, I was still trying to locate his burial site because it was underwater [last week],” said Johnson.
Things looked a lot different than it did a week ago at the Oakland-Tildenville cemetery. Most of the area was underwater after recent storms. Even some caskets were popping up out of the ground.
“I was somewhat flabbergasted ... this is the first time I’ve seen anything like this at the cemetery,” said Johnson.
He and several other families said flooding wasn’t an issue until Pulte Homes built the new Longleaf townhome development next door. While Pulte isn’t taking the blame, the company has been pumping water out of the cemetery almost daily since last week. The company said it is working with the Town of Oakland to come up with a permanent solution. A solution that was supposed to be shared with families Tuesday, but the meeting was canceled.
“Before they even put in the subdivisions, these [potential flooding problems] are some of the things we had already protested against and wanted to make sure they put in the proper drainage,” said Johnson.
The cemetery is owned and maintained by Tildenville Missionary Baptist Church. The Town of Oakland sent News 6 a statement saying it “encountered a potential source of runoff and voluntarily stepped in and plugged a drainage culvert to help minimize flooding until the involved parties could engineer a long-term solution.” The statement goes on to say the town “discussed acting as a liaison to facilitate next steps among parties responsible for the area.”
Because some families have retained legal representation, the town manager said they will not make any further comment or be able to attend any previously scheduled meetings regarding the cemetery.
In the meantime, the board that oversees the cemetery has straightened some headstones and re-buried some of the caskets. They said they are consulting with a lawyer about the situation.
The board said there is not timeline on a plan of action to prevent further flooding. They are encouraging families to go out and honor their loved ones. Some parts of the cemetery are taped off, the board said, to keep people from driving onto the property that still has some standing water.