Sunken and Cracked Graves Greet Some At Columbus Cemetery

Sunken and cracked graves greet families at a Columbus pauper's cemetery that has one family asking tough questions.  It happened at the East Porterdale Cemetery, which is owned by the city of Columbus.

They own and maintain four cemeteries in the city.  City leaders say all the locations are treated the same, but one family who has a relative in one of the four, has a different opinion.  "I see that theirs a whole bunch of graves out here that are sunk in.  I think it's just a danger because you can fall and get hurt.  I also think its just disrespect to the families and to the dead ones," Candice Taylor said.

Taylor says her uncle was buried here about four years ago, because he did not have insurance.  City leaders say part of the cemetery is where Columbus provides a plot to those who can't afford one.  Since some can't afford a vault the grave ends up caving in and cracking.  "When we get a lot of rain the grave is going to sink and then we have to go back to fill the graves with dirt," said Deborah Abraham Cemetery Division Chief.

Right now, there are no laws on the books requiring families to purchase a vault in Georgia.  "We do not require vaults and state law doesn't require vaults although most people are buried with vaults," said Rachel Barker Public Services Deputy Director.

Barker says the majority of private cemeteries require vaults to cut down on maintenance.  While the Taylor family wants to see some changes to prevent sunken graves from happening in Columbus.  "They deserve to have a decent grave where it's not going to sink in on them.  I don't want to see people come and visit loved ones and risk falling in the hole and twisting their ankle," Taylor said.

The city says it has a weekly schedule to get around to all the cemeteries it owns.  They say recent heavy rains have caused more graves to sink than normal.  They do expect in the coming days to go in and fill those graves with more dirt.