Elizabethtown: Plans Being Made For Cemetery, Parks Still Drying Out
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By Erin Smith
As the town of Elizabethtown is recovering from Hurricane Florence, a small section of town looks almost like an earthquake has struck.
The Elizabethtown City Cemetery suffered severe geological damage during the storm. Following Hurricane Florence, a huge crack in the earth appeared in the cemetery, and in the middle of Queen Street, which extends down towards the Go Gas parking lot. The crack has been the cause of concern among residents who have relatives buried there.
Mayor Sylvia Campbell said, “We’re looking at purchasing some land. We have got some land across from the airport for a cemetery.”
She did not elaborate as to what the plans are for the current cemetery location. Mayor Campbell did say town staff is still working on creating a plan to stabilize the ground at the Elizabethtown City Cemetery.
Assistant Town Manager, Pat DeVane said, to date, no graves have opened up or been lost.
“You don’t expect to have anything of that nature happen in your cemetery,” said DeVane.
He said the town is in the process of developing a plan to address the issue. “We are working on it each day. When the ground shifts like that, there is not an overnight fix.”
Town officials have been talking with engineers to determine the best way to stabilize the ground. Go Gas has also consulted with an engineer regarding the phenomena. Queen Street was closed off by Elizabethtown Fire Department on Friday evening due to the damage in the area.
Another cause of concern is a logjam, that has occurred in the Cape Fear River at the US 701 Northbound bridge. The NC Department of Transportation officials have closed the bridge while contractors work to remove the debris that has gathered there.
“It sounds like the bridge is in good shape. That makes us (town officials) feel better,” said Mayor Campbell.
DeVane said NCDOT recently contracted someone to clean up the debris, which had collected from Hurricane Matthew.
“The jam from Hurricane Matthew snagged more trash,” said DeVane.
He added, NC DOT and the contractor are discussing the best method for removal of the debris. The US 701 northbound bridge will remain closed until the debris has been removed.
The towns parks are also in the process of drying out. Tory Hole Park was flooded, but DeVane said a preliminary inspection showed the park was not heavily damaged.
“We know we need to power wash the bathrooms, the playground equipment, and boardwalks,” said DeVane.
He also said town staff still need to walk the nature trails, and remove downed limbs and the disc golf nets need to be put back out.
“We don’t have enough staff to do all that we need to do. Parks and Recreation is a lower position priority than street clean up and yard clean up,” said DeVane.
He also said the work at the William O. Huske Lock and Dam No. 2 in Elizabethtown was halted during Hurricane Florence. The US Army Corps of Engineers has been working for more than one year at the park to repair the scour hole, which was caused by Hurricane Matthew. The project was behind schedule due to incidents of high water, which forced work to be halted.
The park was originally scheduled to be re-opened this month (October 2018); however, that date has been pushed back. The town has a 25-year lease on the park from the Corps of Engineers, said DeVane.
“The Corps of Engineers is still very much in control of the dam,” said DeVane.
He also said that equipment belonging to the contractor was flooded during the storm.
“I know they have been on site, but I don’t know how much assessment and repair has to be done,” said DeVane.
Mayor Campbell said the town is working with the Corps of Engineers and is cooperating with them to see the repairs completed to the dam.
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