Bill proposed to force cemetery owners after graves exposed in flooding

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A state lawmaker says it may take a change in state law to fix a flooding issue at a Charleston cemetery.

Back in December, heavy rains exposed at least ten caskets and vaults at Monrovia Cemetery on Oceanic Street.

For the second time in two months, State Representative Wendell Gilliard held a meeting Friday for family members who are still waiting a solution.

At the first meeting, they learned the State Health Department and the Department Labor, Licensing and Regulation have no jurisdiction over the cemetery.

Gilliard said next week he will prefile a bill that would give cities and counties the power to force cemetery owners and operators to maintain, protect and preserve them.

"We have to save these historical gravesites and the majority of them are black gravesites," Gilliard told the audience.

People who attended the meeting say they've waited too long for something to be done.

"For the dead to have to have to wake up to get the living to do something is out of order," Gullah Society CEO Dr. Ade Ofunniyin said.

A woman said her kids had a bad experience when they tried to find a relative's grave at Monrovia.

“They saw the devastation, still nothing really has changed. The grass has grown up. They’ve taken pictures, they came back and said nothing has changed. What can we do to make a change?” she told Gilliard.

At the end of the meeting everyone agreed on one thing.

"There's no quick answer to what we're facing presently," Ofunniyin said.

Gilliard says after he prefiles his bill it will still have to go through several committees and subcommittees before it possibly makes its way to the house and senate.

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