Calls for action from Council on flooding at cemetery in Ballymena
Members of the local community have called on Mid and East Antrim Borough Council to take action after yet another flooding incident at a cemetery in Ballymena.
The ongoing drainage issue has been a problem at Ballee Cemetery, Toome Road for a number of years, according to families who regularly visit loved ones buried there.
One local woman reported that the ground in the area of the cemetery near the road, frequently becomes waterlogged during periods of heavy rain.
She told Love Ballymena:
"In times of persistent rain, the ground quickly becomes very swampy and it is necessary to wear welly boots when I visit. Parts near the lower gates can be covered with up to half a foot of water.
"The ground becomes so waterlogged the graves themselves just become pools of water. It really is very impacting to see your loved one's resting place in that state."
Another woman shared:
"One day I witnessed the workers digging a grave and the water was gushing up from the bottom of the hole. Someone else had previously been buried in it. So the grave was filling up with water from the bottom up as the men continued to dig. I spoke with one of the council workers who said they simply scoop the water out before the burial. Later that evening I returned and the burial had taken place but the flowers were literally 'swimming' on top of the filled in grave. It is sickening."
The latest incident followed heavy rainfall on Wednesday past, 27th September, during Storm Agnes, though a number of people have confirmed that they have witnessed the same flooding issues at the same area of the cemetery for a number of years now.
Commenting following last Wednesday's flooding, Councillor Colin Crawford, the Ulster Unionist Party's representative for Ballymena DEA, said he has sought an "urgent meeting with Mid and East Antrim Borough Council officers regarding the serious damage caused to Ballee Cemetery by Storm Agnes".
Cllr Crawford commented:
"I was alarmed to be notified of the damage that Storm Agnes has caused to Ballee Cemetry in recent days. I attended the cemetery last Wednesday evening, and I cannot describe how troubling I found the condition of the site.
"I was saddened to discover that countless graves, plots and family tributes have been impacted by the adverse weather. I can only imagine how distressing families have found the impact of this storm on the place where their loved ones have been laid to rest.
"Our cemeteries are solemn places that should enable people from across our communities to remember their loved ones."
Cllr Crawford added:
"I have called for an urgent site meeting with officers from Mid and East Antrim Borough Council to identify areas for urgent remedial work. Furthermore, I will be leading efforts to ensure that cemeteries across Mid and East Antrim are prepared for serious weather events to prevent situations like this from arising again."
Love Ballymena asked Mid and East Antrim Borough Council for comment on the ongoing issues impacting Ballee Cemetery. A spokesperson for the local authority responded:
“A section of Ballee Cemetery was impacted by flooding last Wednesday following prolonged downpours brought by Storm Agnes.
“We fully appreciate how distressing and upsetting incidents such as this can be for families and loved ones, and we wish to assure them we are working to help prevent a recurrence.”
The families who have loved ones buried in Ballee Cemetery have now setup a WhatsApp group and said their next step will be to request a meeting with Mid and East Antrim Borough Council to seek a resolution to the ongoing issues at Ballee.