When Hurricane Florence struck in September 2018, no one would have predicted the record-breaking 36-inches of rainfall Elizabethtown would experience in less than two days. Unfortunately, the Elizabethtown Cemetery was one of the many casualties of the storm. It suffered damage when the heavy rainfall saturated the ground, causing it to sink and shift as much as 2 feet in some areas. The town has been working diligently with its engineering consultant to create a solution to fix the cemetery and protect it from future damage.
The following video describes the plan:
October 12, 2021 - PROGRESS UPDATE
The contractor is ready to begin the process of leveling the headstones and finish grading the cemetery. The Town of Elizabethtown requests that family members remove any flowers, planted trees, crosses, flags, and other materials from the headstones before October 17.
The contractor has a detailed system to remove the headstones with the utmost care. An explanation of the process can be found in the above video starting at 3:08 minutes.
October 5, 2021 - Cemetery Construction Progress Update
The primary feature of the construction project includes a 50-foot deep steel sheet pile wall. Most of the sheet pile wall is complete and should be finished by early November.
Construction currently underway includes:
Installation of underdrain dewatering systems
Installation of storm drainage conveyance systems
The next phase of construction includes:
- Leveling of headstone and finish grading.
- Installation of sod.
- Installation of curb and gutter and paving East Queen Street.
- All major work for the cemetery is expected to be complete by the end of December 2021.
- Specific to the next phase of construction, Headstone Leveling and Finish Grading, see the additional information below:
Existing Conditions Assessment
- During the design phase, which was completed in 2020, the Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) was finished on the graveyard north of East Queen Street and a portion of the cemetery south of East Queen Street, adjacent to North Cypress Street, hereafter referred to as the ‘cemetery work area. A GPR report was issued with the results that identified the approximate depths of existing caskets within the ‘cemetery work area.
- Also, during the design phase, completed in 2020, a detailed survey of the ‘cemetery work area’ was done along with a photo inventory of all the visible headstone markers. The photo inventory includes over one-thousand separate photos documenting existing conditions.
Construction Efforts Specific to Headstone Leveling
- The contractor has now completed a separate detailed survey and headstone marker survey. This was a planned redundant effort to ensure any headstones moved were put back in the exact location and condition as the existing position.
- The contractor will be required to work within a small portion of the cemetery at a time for the Headstone Leveling. The documents require no more than 100 grave markers to be disturbed at a time. This will help ensure quality control and that each section is appropriately restored, then approved and accepted by the Engineer and Town before allowing the contractor to move to the next work area.
- For larger headstones, the contractor has been provided a detailed method to construct the base, ensuring it will remain level. This detail was developed with local funeral home specialists utilizing industry-approved standards for cemetery and headwall installation.
- The video below describes the phased sequence of headstone work at a timestamp of 3:08 minutes.
- An archaeological specialist with extensive experience identifying and documenting cemeteries will be on-site during all ground-disturbing activities. Should a grave marker be identified during the leveling process that wasn’t identified previously, the archaeological specialist will photo document the grave marker and will work with the Town to include it in the final cemetery mapping.
- No caskets will be disturbed or moved,
only the headstones/markers.
- The contractor will take special
precautions not to damage any grave markers. However, if there is a concern about potential damage, the Engineer and Town will refer to the original photo documentation of existing conditions to assess possible damage. If damage is incurred, the contractor must custom order a replacement to match the headstone material type, size, dimensions, text, and font.
- In the event of a funeral, the contractor will be required to clean up the project site and stop all construction activities during the graveside service.