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July 6, 2013

 

Cemetery facing long cleanup

Rocks, debris spread out across roughly 3,000 feet

CemeteryJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
A sign at St. Mary’s Cemetery on Friday blocks off a portion of the cemetery damaged by flooding.

By CATHERINE WILDE
Staff Reporter
cwilde@cortlandstandard.net

Months of cleanup are ahead for St. Mary’s Cemetery after Monday’s flooding left dirt and debris strewn across about 3,000 feet of the cemetery.
On Friday, St. Mary’s Cemetery Superintendent Wayne Moore was barricading parts of the cemetery that were covered in dirt and rocks.
Moore said he has never seen this type of damage in the ten years he’s worked for the cemetery.
He estimated the cleanup would take three months.
But the work cannot begin until the Syracuse Diocese develops a plan for retaining the water that is still flowing through a ditch on the site, Mark Lazaroski, director of cemeteries for the Syracuse Diocese, said on Friday.
He was awaiting feedback from the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the state Department of Transportation on how to proceed with either putting a new pipe in the ditch or building a retention pond downstream.
Lazaroski said his civil engineer will be consulting with those two agencies in coming days.
“We can’t start that (cleanup) until we get that water controlled. If we get another hard rain it will wash out again,” Lazaroski said, adding the water came from an adjacent neighbor above the cemetery.
Lazaroski said the Syracuse Diocese will be funding the repairs. The cleanup will be complicated and expensive, he said.
He did not have a cost estimate.
“In this case it is a tremendous volume of water that comes off that hill, those calculations have to be worked out and agreed upon by everybody so we’re not just forcing water somewhere (else),” Lazaroski said.
Lazaroski assured family members that the diocese is committed to “rectifying this horrific event.”
The flooding did not disrupt any vaults or tombs and funerals are proceeding as normal, he said.
A freshly dug grave in the section of cemetery affected by the storm was being covered with dirt after a funeral Friday.
One relative was clearing away rubble from her family members’ grave, though she declined to give her name.

 

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