Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Research request: Cemeteries and Flooding

My schedule for the early part of the coming year appears flexible enough to begin some research in the area of cemeteries and the impact of flooding and runoff.
I recently posted an item about the Catholic Cemeteries of Brooklyn filing a civil complaint against the city over flood damage to St. John Cemetery, in Middle Village, because of poor drainage.
For my class work a couple of years ago, I found a story about a very old cemetery along the Chesapeake Bay that, because of rising waters/climate change, is now seeing some of its graves washed into the bay. The video is particularly poignant.
What I am seeking now is similar information -- anecdotal or scientific -- about other cemeteries, so that I can compile some data and perhaps start analyzing it with GIS.
Some folks may be familiar with a landmark study from Temple University, dated August 2006, where they used GIS to determine that FEMA maps for the area of Pennypack Watershed in the Philadelphia area were inadequate, and that flooding potential was actually worse than what FEMA data would indicate. While much of the Temple study involved roads, businesses, housing, etc., I'm sure that overdevelopment can impact cemeteries, as well, with runoff and other problems.
I appreciate any leads you can send my way.

1 comment:

jennifer said...

My first inkling that cemetery flooding was an issue came in
1972, I was visting and then got trapped in western NY during Hurricane Agnes. It hit that area so bad that the Allegheny river flooded and the many inches of rain washed some graves away. I was only 9 yrs old, but already had a fascination with cemeteries and thought this was very interesting to say the least!

At the time of the hurricane, we were staying in a convent, a 19th century mansion that was a former girls school that has since been demolished. It was owned and operated by the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, and directly behind this convent was the huge, old, and beautiful St Bonaventure's Cemetery - which was my playground that summer.

I remember being worried that the graves in St Bonaventure would also be washed away, and had lots of scary dreams about it...but, we and the cemetery were on high ground.

I believe if you do some searching online, there is info about what happened to some cemeteries during Hurricane Agnes.