Oakland Cemetery continues to flood, claimants hope lawsuit will get solution

250 claimants involved in class action lawsuit against Pulte

OAKLAND, Fla. – Families said the Oakland Tildenville Cemetery still floods every time there’s heavy rain and they want a permanent solution. They hope a class action lawsuit will get that.

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“No family should have to come out here and rebury their loved ones over and over again, that’s ridiculous,” Deborah Fryar said.

The Oakland Tildenville Cemetery is now roped off with cones blocking the path inside. Fryar has generations of family members buried there.

She was at the cemetery in September, when the cemetery was underwater. Some caskets coming out of the ground.

“My sister’s casket was out of the ground. It’s sad that you have to go through this. You can’t lay them to rest and let them be at peace. You have to keep burying them again and again,” said Fryer.

Fryar and other families said the cemetery didn’t flood until the new Longleaf development was built next door by PulteHomes. The families blaming Pulte for the flooding issue, filing a class-action lawsuit to get results and find a permanent solution.

Attorney Tyler Kobylinski with Morgan & Morgan is heading the suit that includes about 250 claimants. He said the new entryway and culvert built as part of the new development appears to have redirected the flow of stormwater.

“It was flowing east. What we see is that the water is now flowing west on West Colonial Drive out towards the cemetery’s property. The addition of this drainage culvert by Pulte caused a redirection of the flow of water to spill out into the cemetery,” said Kobylinski.

After the flooding, the Town of Oakland covered a culvert with sandbags and wooden planks. Pulte put in pumps that remain on property but said the new community is not to blame. PulteGroup sending News 6 a statement.

“Our hearts go out to those whose have seen the final resting place of family members and loved ones disturbed by the recent historic rainfall and resulting flooding. We are confident that our adjacent community is not the primary source of the problem, but are working closely with the Town and State to determine the exact cause. As appropriate, we are prepared to assist them in implementing the solution to ensure this never happens again.”

Fryar said she just wants her family to be at peace.

“My whole family is out here and I don’t want to see they’re constantly underwater. They don’t care because their family isn’t out here... They should step up and do what they have to do to get it fixed,” said Fryar.

The lawsuit is still in the very early stages, according to Kobylinski.

“What our recommendation to family members that are affected right now is to not do anything with respect to the cemetery. The way we’ve explained it is, there’s still an ongoing issue, there’s still flooding and drainage issues. We have significant concerns that if a family member goes out there or pays a company to rebury the gravesite of a family member, that they’ll run into the same issue the next time there’s a large amount of water placed into that cemetery,” said Kobylinski.

Kobylinski said Pulte has until December 13 to respond to the court summons.

About the Authors:

Crystal Moyer is a morning news anchor who joined the News 6 team in 2020.