Cemetery repairs halted by heavy rains

Published: Feb. 21, 2013 at 11:17 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 21, 2013 at 11:58 PM CST
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PONCHATOULA, LA (WAFB) - More rain this week is only going to be making a problem in Ponchatoula worse. Tombstones are sinking because of the saturated ground, and those left behind are now fighting a losing battle with Mother Nature.

A construction barricade and a few piles of dirt was not the response Lettie Bowman Goforth expected after she complained to the city about condition of her family burial plot.

"This has been going on for a year. The hole's getting worse," said Goforth. "They fill it up...soon as it rains, it goes worse."

Goforth says she believes a culvert at the back of the Ponchatoula Cemetery is one of the reason the final resting place for her relatives, and hundreds of others, is in poor condition.

"I'm afraid that the piping's just going to cave in. And they're saying that they're supposed to put cement piping in, but yet, the graves are still going down more and more," said Goforth.

Ponchatoula mayor Robert Zabbia says while the city does own the property, each family is responsible for general upkeep of the graves. He says there is a small drainage issue, which is their responsibility, but factors out of their control are stopping them from fixing it right now.

"Our crews were out there yesterday when Mrs. Bowman made her complaint, and there is a plan of action. But you know we have a forecast of rain for the next five days," said Zabbia. "Whatever we do out there, we try to do it with respect to grave itself...with all respect, but it's difficult."

Zabbia says all they can now do is wait for mother nature and figure out the best way to replace old parts of the culvert.

The mayor tells 9News fixing the old culvert isn't easy. He says crews have to make repairs piece by piece - often while dealing with a saturated ground while doing their best to respect those who are buried there.

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