Flooding in cemetery makes it difficult to visit deceased

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LA PORTE, Texas – Families whose loved ones are buried at the La Porte Cemetery are concerned about the land and drainage issues.

The historic cemetery, which was established in 1907, tends to hold water when it rains. With the recent weather, drainage has been a problem, causing water to back up in the cemetery.

“There’s holes all over the place. It’s not a very level ground, and now with the rain that we’ve had, the cemetery is holding water like no tomorrow,” explained Tonya Yeatts, whose grandmother, Jimmie Yarbrough, was laid to rest at the La Porte Cemetery three years ago.

“Most of the time, I don’t get out of my car, as bad as that is, because it, either the grass is so high or it’s so wet, so I just pull up on that little side road and just sit in my car and just look at it because that’s  really the only option we have,” Yeatts said.

The La Porte Cemetery Association’s current board took over the historic cemetery two years ago. The group said prior to their takeover, the cemetery was in really bad shape, but there’s a lot more work to do.

“We have done a lot of work out here to improve it because it was very neglected cemetery,” Melissa Fisher, president of the La Porte Cemetery Association, said. “We have done a lot of work, but we can’t deal with this drainage. We don’t have the money, the equipment or the manpower, so we have asked the city of La Porte to assist us with this, and this has been an ongoing discussion for two years.”

The city of La Porte said it does not own the cemetery, but it has helped out in the past.

“The city was kind enough, the city did re-blacktop the roads last year, so they put that in the budget for us,” Fisher said.

She said while they are beyond grateful for the work the city did last year, they’re just asking for a little more help with cleaning out the ditches and culverts.

“That’s all we need. We’re not asking for a lot, we’re not asking for a fancy drainage system for this cemetery. Just do what you can, help us with our ditches and our culverts so we can get some water out of here,” she said.

The association makes money from selling plots, which cost a flat rate of $850, and donations. Fisher said in 2018, they made about $39,000.

For Fisher, the condition of the cemetery is personal. Her husband was laid to rest there in 2016.

“I love the cemetery. My husband is buried here, and I love this place, and I have put in countless hours out here working and landscaping, digging and shoveling dirt, and I just, we need some help, because I love this place. It means a lot to me. I just hate to see it like this,” she said.

Fisher said originally, two men were running the cemetery, but one passed away and the other didn’t want to run it anymore. She said in 2017, he placed an ad in the paper for a meeting, and five community members were elected to the board, including Fisher.

“This is a city historical site. It’s part of the city’s history, and we just need some help with it, because it’s just not fair to the people who are buried here and to their loved ones who can’t even get to their gravesites to visit even if they want to,” Fisher said.

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