Grounds supervisor of Warrill Park Cemetery, Rick Nice, at some of the graves that sunk during the 2013 January flood.
Grounds supervisor of Warrill Park Cemetery, Rick Nice, at some of the graves that sunk during the 2013 January flood. Sarah Harvey

More than 50 graves sink a metre during flooding at cemetery

THE flood has left an eerie path of destruction at Warrill Park Lawn Cemetery, with more than 50 graves sinking a metre into the ground.

Burial plots, many of them new, collapsed when a 50cm wall of water flooded the grounds last Monday.

The nursery area and Section One of the main cemetery was worst hit, with the sheer volume of floodwater shifting some ornaments and flowers as far as the road.

The massive clean-up is expected to take Ipswich Cemeteries, who manage the grounds on behalf of Ipswich City Council, about a month to restore.

"You're supposed to leave the graves for 12 months to settle, but unfortunately if you get a lot of rain, the voids in the backfill break down and the grave drops," grounds supervisor Rick Nice said.

If you get a lot of rain, the voids in the backfill break down and the grave drops.

He said the situation was unpreventable during bad weather and was a common occurrence in most cemeteries.

"I have to wait for them to dry out as many of them are filled with water, then fill them up again," Mr Nice said.

"At the moment we have debris in the main part of the cemetery which we can't clean up because the ground is too soft to operate machinery on."

Gary Malcolm, whose baby and brother are buried at Warrill Park, has volunteered to help restore the graves, many of which have been left covered in mud.

"I wanted to help out to get everything back to normal again," the Goodna resident said.

Ipswich Cemeteries started a large-scale clean-up of the grounds last week.

Mr Nice said staff were devastated when they were confronted with the damage last Tuesday. The cemetery had escaped floodwaters in 2011.

"We just installed a 4.5 mega litre dam and two weeks ago it was empty - now it is full," Mr Nice said.

"We've been advised by council to remove all the trinkets on the graves and clean them down."

The floodwaters lapped the floorboards of the new office building, which was due to be officially opened today.

The opening has now been delayed until a later date.



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