AP NEWS

Flooding fears prompts Fayetteville to relocate cemetery graves

May 17, 2019

Officials plan to relocate graves at one of Fayetteville’s oldest cemeteries because of floodwater fears.

Recent storms swamped Cross Creek Cemetery No. 3, and officials say the graves, which are mostly children, need to be moved to prevent future damage.

Jim Zieba, a retired Fort Bragg officer, said his son died the day he was born back in 1966 and is buried in Cross Creek Cemetery No. 3.

Zieba said he wasn’t aware that his son, and about 200 other infants, are going to have to be moved to a different location.

“We don’t live in the area,” he said. “We pass through every Memorial Day and Christmas, and we come to put a little wreath on the baby’s grave.”

The floodwater from Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Florence swamped nearly all of the graves, which occupy about 18 acres of embankment along the west side of Lamon Street.

The fear is that the next storm with major flooding could wash away the graves.

“We certainly sympathize and are mindful of the fact that is is causing emotional distress,” Mayor Mitch Colvin said.

In addition to presiding over the city, Colvin is a funeral director.

“The one thing I hate about the profession is handling kids and people that you know,” he said. “My heart goes out (to the relatives), but at the end of it, I don’t know if we have a lot of choice.”

City officials are waiting on contractor bids before they decide when the graves will be moved to Cross Creek Cemetery No. 5.