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West Orange Times & Observer Tuesday, Sep. 29, 2020 1 year ago

Torrential downpours flood Oakland-Tildenville Cemetery

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A neighboring developer has been pumping water from the land since yesterday’s rains.
by: Amy Quesinberry Community Editor

The town of Oakland recorded 4.4 inches of rain overnight Sunday, Sept. 27, and another 1.5 inches Monday, Sept. 28 — creating a severe flooding situation in multiple areas of town. The worst flooding occurred at the Oakland-Tildenville Cemetery, just north of West Colonial Drive, where several dozen gravesites were under water.

“The ground had already been saturated from more than 4 inches of rain during the past month, and low-lying areas were inundated when the storm passed through,” town officials wrote on the town’s Facebook page.

Town officials have issued several statements to update residents on the issue, the first of which went out Monday.

“The town is working closely with Tildenville Missionary Baptist Church, the owner of the Oakland-Tildenville Cemetery, to ensure a permanent solution is found to the flooding issue,” the town said. “The town takes this matter very seriously, as the Oakland-Tildenville Cemetery is a resting place for our community's beloved family members. Pulte, the owner of the neighboring development and adjacent road, is currently pumping water from the cemetery. Town staff is on scene offering emergency assistance to the developer. Due to the serious and sensitive nature of this flooding issue, the town has called upon the developer to swiftly work on a permanent solution.

The Oakland African American Historic Cemetery remains unaffected, the town said.

In a second statement Tuesday, town officials said they met with the Oakland-Tildenville Cemetery Board to hear the board’s concerns and share the steps the town is taking to help fix the issue.

“The town will host a community meeting with family members of those interred at the cemetery at a date to be announced,” the town said. “Pulte Homes has been continually pumping at the site.”

In addition, town staff noticed a potential contributing factor to the flooding and plugged a pipe that had been installed as part of the development.

“We are committed to working with the Pulte Homes and jurisdictional permitting agencies to find a swift and permanent solution to the flooding issue at the Oakland-Tildenville Cemetery,” said the town.

Already, families have started a petition on Moveon.org to help protect the cemetery. There were close to 350 signatures Tuesday afternoon.

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Amy Quesinberry is the community editor of the West Orange Times & Observer and the Windermere Observer. She was born and raised in Winter Garden, grew up reading the community newspaper and has been employed there as a writer, photographer and editor since 1990....

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