By Charlotte Smith
The damages are growing at the Elizabethtown City Cemetery on Queen Street in Elizabethtown. At first report a couple weeks ago some emergency officials on site and citizens said the geological damages at the cemetery may be a sink whole or a land slide. However, no geological professional has varied exactly what has caused the soil and asphalt damages at the local grave site.
Since the first report by BladenOnline.com in September there seems to be more movement in the soil at the cemetery. The ground at the cemetery in some areas has split open to almost three feet in depth. There has been more movement in markers and graves since the first report as well.
Town of Elizabethtown Mayor, Sylvia Campbell said, “This is uncharted territory. We are taking it slow and there is no easy decision to make.”
Mayor Campbell explained she is gathering several expert opinions before making any formal decisions. There have been suggestions made such as a retaining wall according to the Mayor.
There are plans to provide a cemetery on some land in the area of the Elizabethtown Airport Mayor Campbell reported.
“But, I don’t want to have to move any graves if at all possible,” Campbell said.
“This is our top priority,” Campbell added.
Mayor Campbell is hopeful after speaking with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). She said there was a cemetery in Fayetteville with damages in the past and FEMA funding was provided for cemetery repair in that area. Queen Street is closed with Police tape at two of the intersections on the road.
The bridge on US Hwy 701 over the Cape Fear River is in close proximity to the cemetery and has been a major concern for citizens as well. There is a large amount of debris under the bridge. The north bound lane of the bridge was closed just after Hurricane Florence hit Bladen County.
We have made repeated attempts to contact several different representatives with the North Carolina Department of Transportation. We have not received any phone calls back and the representatives we have made contact with have no comments or update to give us about the bridge and debris repair. UPDATE: READ NCDOT response here.
Mayor Campbell said she, Pat DeVane, Assistant Town Manager, and other officials have met with the NCDOT.
“They are keeping a close eye on the bridge and assured me if there were any changes with it, they would let me know,” Campbell said about the NCDOT representatives.
At last report the plan is still to remove the storm debris under the bridge by truck according to Campbell.