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, and it suffered damage when the hurricane’s 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:
Oct. 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 is requesting that family members remove any flowers, planted trees, crosses, flags and other materials from the headstones before Sunday, October 17.
The contractor has a very detailed system to remove the headstones with the upmost care. An explanation of process, can be found on the above video starting at 3:08 minutes.
The following is description of progress completed to date:
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
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 graveyard south of East Queen Street, adjacent to North Cypress Street, henceforth 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, which was completed in 2020, a detailed survey of the ‘cemetery work area’ was done along with a photo inventory of all the observable 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 same location and condition as 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 are disturbed at a time. This will help ensure quality control and to make sure that each section is restored properly, then approved and accepted by the Engineer and Town prior to allowing the contractor to move to the next section of work.
- For larger headstones, the contractor has been provided a detailed method to construct the base ensuring it will remain level. This detail was developed in conjunction with local funeral home specialists utilizing industry approved standards for cemetery and headwall installation.
- The below project video describes the phased sequence of headstone work at time stamp 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 on the final cemetery mapping.
- No caskets will be disturbed or moved, only the headstones / markers.
- The contractor will take special precautions to not damage any grave markers, However, in the event there is a concern about potential damage, the Engineer and Town will refer to the original photo documentation of existing conditions to assess potential damage. If damage is incurred, the contractor will be required to custom order a replacement to match 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.