Immokalee cemetery continues to flood

Multiple graves at Lake Trafford Memorial Gardens remain under water as the county evaluates what to do about the flooding problem that has plagued the property. (Submitted photo/Travis Anderson)

In August, the Immokalee Bulletin first covered flooding issues at Lake Trafford Memorial Gardens after the Rivera family demanded answers from county officials.

In April, the Rivera family buried their loved one, Damian Rivera at the cemetery in Immokalee. Little did they know, the cemetery had a history of flooding.

However, the flooding didn’t start this year. Various news outlets have covered the flooding issue since at least 2014.

County Commissioner Bill McDaniel said in August that Collier County was utilizing a system called AIMS to track issues that citizens report. In August, McDaniel said that he was made aware of the drainage issue and the complaint had been entered into their system.

Over the last several weeks, the flooding has been photographed and well documented by Immokalee Bulletin staff.

On Monday, Commissioner McDaniel was asked for an update on when residents might see change at the cemetery. McDaniel said “Collier County Facilities Management Division is progressively addressing the drainage issue at this location. Collier County Facilities Management Division has an open work order with an independent consultant to review the drainage and provide recommendations for improvement. They are hoping to get the results in the next 60 days.”

We have asked for clarification on when that 60-day window started and have yet to hear back from Commissioner McDaniel or his staff.

Flooding at the cemetery is not just an inconvenience for visiting family and friends. Commissioner McDaniel pointed out that one vault on the property had to be reset by Brister Funeral Home due to flooding which left the vault visible from above ground.

Aside from vegetation, dead trees, and trash, an old sign that appears to belong to Collier County was also found laying in the ditch on the property.

While some question why the property has been allowed to continue to flood, others have asked why county staff has let the property fall into disrepair in the first place.

A quick inspection of other county facilities in Immokalee shows that the lack of maintenance is not unique to Lake Trafford Memorial Gardens.

Numerous potholes have formed in the parking lot of government center in Immokalee even though the potholes have been patched year after year.  Tree roots create an uneven parking and pedestrian surface at the Immokalee Community Park.  And, weeds continue to grow along the county right-of-way in several areas making it difficult and dangerous for drivers to see pedestrians near crosswalks.

For now, residents will have to wait and see if the county actually takes steps to improve the cemetery.

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