Hurricane Ian flooding leaves destruction at Oakland-Tildenville Cemetery

There were plenty of tense moments for families as they rushed to the Oakland-Tildenville Cemetery to check on the status of their loved ones.

Since Hurricane Ian made landfall, this area has received more than six inches of rain, leaving graves underwater, tombstones floating and caskets busted open by broken tree limbs.

Malcom Jones, an Oakland resident, says, "It’s devastating." Jones just buried his grandmother at the historic cemetery last week and was supposed to bury his uncle here this coming Saturday. He continues, "Of course, it’s flooded right now, so I don’t see it happening."

This is the second time in as many years Oakland Cemetery has seen flooding of this magnitude.

"It’s devastating. I mean it seems like nobody really cares what’s going on, you know? I’m trying to figure out when has this become a retention pond. I’ve been in Oakland for 34 years, and it’s never been like that besides two years ago," Jones explains.

FOX 35 was here in 2020 when this same cemetery flooded. Six inches of rain was recorded over the course of two days. This time around, Hurricane Ian has dropped more than six inches.

Now, these families are coming together, with the few tools they’ve managed to find, in order to begin the clean-up process and lay their loved ones back to rest. "I don’t want to just leave them exposed like this because who knows before they actually come out here and do anything. It could be weeks, days, we don’t know," Jones adds.

When FOX 35 reached out to the city of Oakland, a spokesperson confirmed this cemetery is not owned or maintained by the city. We reached out to the neighboring home developer, Pulte Group, and a spokesperson for the company confirmed they have pumps running and water is beginning to recede. 

In a statement, Pulte Group said, "Our sympathies go out to the families impacted by the record flooding at the Oakland Cemetery following heavy rainfall from Hurricane Ian, a storm that has been characterized as a historic and catastrophic weather event. Keeping with our commitment to preserving this historic site and being a good neighbor in the community, we continue to help FDOT with mitigation efforts to lessen the impact of this devastating natural disaster."