Flood repairs underway at Albany cemetery - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Flood repairs underway at Albany cemetery

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September 25, 2003

Albany - It was one of the most gruesome sites of the Flood of 1994. Hundreds of coffins and bodies disinterred from Riverside Oakview Cemetery. "It was horrible. The debris and the unearthed bodies were gruesome," said City Engineering Project Manager Wes Smith.

Now, crooked markers and broken gravestones continue to serve as a reminder of the flood. Nearly 10 years later, FEMA is finally giving the city money to repair damaged gravestones and burial sites. "We are replacing and repairing nearly 350 ledgers," said Smith. "Some gravestones will be straightened. Others will be totally removed."

FEMA is giving $600,000 for repairs, but the city had hoped from $1,000,000. And, that means some families of the deceased won't be happy. "We initially planned to replace ledgers with ledgers and replace all decorative walls and statues, but FEMA mandates we use standard ledgers that are smaller than many of the original," said Smith.

Architect Thomas Cline surveyed the entire cemetery and found about 350 flood damaged grave sites. Dozens of graves were engulfed by a 50 foot sinkhole. "We saved all the gravestones that we could," said Cline. "We will repair and replace as many as possible."

95 of the 97 bodies that were never identified are now buried on a plot at the front of the cemetery. But, you would never now that because the graves are unmarked. That will change soon. "We will place a marker on every unknown grave," said Smith. "We had hoped to place a monument at the site, but these markers will also be appropriate.

Many of these graves were elaborate sites that now will be replaced by simple markers - another casualty of the flood of the century.

The repairs to all grave sites must be complete by December 31st.

Posted at 3:15PM by kathryn.murchison@walb.com