Repairing sunken graves at Ft. Bliss National Cemetery

KDBC

Families unhappy

Monday, September 16, 2013 - 6:04pm

The fallout from last week's heavy rains are widespread and they are even effecting those no longer with us.
Families of veterans are disturbed sinking headstones and graves at Fort Bliss National Cemetery.

Silence and solitude are replaced with the sounds of hard work and heavy lifting.

"I hesitated having him buried out here but he served in the military and deserved a spot out here," said widow Priscilla Scott.

Crews work to fill the sunken graves and lift headstones of more than 1,300 veterans.
Unusually heavy rains created sinkholes.

"When I come out here, it's deplorable the conditions that the cemetery's in," Scott said.  "It's hard enough to come out here when it's hot. You have the heat coming down on you and heat coming up from the rocks and iI think grass needs to be put back in".

The cemetery was xeriscaped a couple of years ago, after Scott's husband was buried
The sparse grass and weeds wasreplaced with dirt and small rocks.

With enough rain, grass or sediment will create a sinkhole. 'This isn't unprecedented. During storm 2006, more than 3000 graves sunk at Ft. Bliss National Cemetery.

"You would've had this same situation for grass, versus what's there currently," said Associate Geology Professor Joshua Villalobos.

But families of the deceased, blame the cemetery keepers.

"Blaming this on the lack of grass is complete nonsense, because this would happen in a cemetery that had grass in it," said Ft. Bliss National Cemetery director, Andrew Matthews.

Each headstone weighs 240 pounds, so the crews have a lot of work ahead of them.
Matthews hopes they'll have the bulk of the work done by the end of the week.

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