Family pushes for change after cemetery floods

Multiple graves are under water at Lake Trafford Memorial Gardens. (Submitted photo/Travis Anderson)

In April, the Rivera family in Immokalee buried their loved one, Damian Rivera at Lake Trafford Memorial Gardens.

The funeral and burial expenses totaled $9,000, but the Rivera family said that they were never told that the cemetery had a significant flooding problem.

Damian’s aunt, Marilou Rivera, started an online petition in hopes of persuading Collier County leaders to fix the problem.

The Rivera family said that they have tried to visit Damian’s gravesite several times, but haven’t been able to get close to the site because there are several inches of standing water that is not draining from the property.

Part of the problem is due to the lack of drainage in and around the property. One small drainage ditch runs along the front part of the property. However, the ditch is full of weeds and doesn’t actually drain anywhere.

Tina Rivera holds a photo of her grandson Damian Rivera who is buried at Lake Trafford Memorial Gardens. (Submitted photo/Travis Anderson)

Collier County Public Information Coordinator Kate Albers said that an in-house project manager with the Facilities Management Division will be evaluating the drainage concerns and will determine what to do next.

County Commission Bill McDaniel said on Tuesday that he is concerned with the drainage and maintenance issues at the cemetery and will be following up on the issue.

McDaniel pointed out that Collier County utilizes a program called AIMS, which stands for Agency Issue Management System, to track issues. Once a complaint is received, the information is entered into the AIMS system. From there, progress is tracked and the system even prompts the Commissioner’s office to intervene if the project is not moving along as planned.

“The AIMS system is a really great tool and allows us to track issues and see if someone is not doing their job. My office was made aware of the issue last week and we are using this system to track the progress,” McDaniel said.

McDaniel encourages anyone that sees an issue to notify his office via email so that his staff can get the issue into the AIMS system.

The Rivera family pointed out that maintenance at the cemetery is not the only issue they feel the County has dropped the ball on when it comes to serving the Immokalee Community. They pointed to the tall grass along Lake Trafford Road near Arrowhead Reserve which creates a safety issues for drivers and children making their way to Lake Trafford Elementary.

Trash piled high at one of several bins around the property. (Submitted photo/Travis Anderson)

Additionally, there are poorly lit crosswalks, crosswalks with signs that differ from other crosswalks, and overflowing garbage in the trash bins along Main Street.

“There is more to Immokalee than the Casino and it is time the County takes care of the people who live here,” the Rivera family said.

Commissioner McDaniel said that he wants to remind the public that he is in Immokalee every Wednesday and wants to hear about your concerns. If you would like to submit a complaint or concern or would like to meet with the Commissioner, you may email him at

Travis can be reached at

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