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Cemetery downpour: Bereaved left to bail out flood-hit graves of their loved ones

Cemetery service says it will 'rectify the damaged caused'

09 October, 2020 — By Calum Fraser

GRIEVING families had to bail out their loved ones’ graves with buckets after part of a cemetery flooded during the weekend’s downpour.

The mother of a murdered young man was among dozens of bereaved families who were met with a chaotic scene when they arrived at Islington and St Pancras Cemetery. Flowers and pictures, which had been lovingly placed on the plots, were strewn across the ground or floating in more than two feet of water that had filled the graves.

Amanda Francis, of Camden Gardens in Camden Town, arrived on Saturday morning with son Courtney to visit the grave of her father Peter, who was buried at the cemetery in East Finchley in July.

She told the New Journal: “When we arrived I saw my mum screaming and putting her hands over her head. We jumped out of the car and ran over to my dad’s grave. The photos were floating and flowers were everywhere.”

Although located in Barnet, the cemetery is run by Islington and Camden and is the final resting place for thousands of people who lived in the borough.

Ms Francis added: “Mum had one of Dad’s pictures and she kept saying sorry to it. We keep telling her it’s not her fault. She is still in a state now.”

Ms Francis said she now wants to have her father’s body exhumed and cremated.

A spokesman for the Islington and Camden Cemetery Service apologised to the families and said the flooding occurred due to the heavy rain over the weekend.

Keetha Allaway, whose 22-year-old son Imani was shot dead in Islington in July, disputes this as she first sounded the alarm about issues with his grave two weeks before. She believes there may be structural issues with the area.

The council has admitted that there was also a burst pipe but insists it did not contribute to the flooding. The section of the cemetery that flooded is new and only came into use last year.

Ms Allaway said: “This has been a complete and utter nightmare. My sister and I spent hours fishing the flowers and pictures out of the saturated pit and cleaning them. We were on our hands and knees for hours trying to drain the water.”

A spokesman for Islington and Camden Cemetery Service said: “We are very sorry for any distress that the appearance of these graves caused families and friends over the weekend. The water on top of the graves was caused by a prolonged period of heavy rainfall. We are rectifying the damage caused and talking to the families affected, working with them to restore the graves to their original condition. We welcome anyone else with concerns to contact us.”

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