Work ordered to prevent further 'distressing' flooding at Jarrow Cemetery
Footpaths and graves were left submerged following a sustained bout of wintry weather on Friday, February 5.
This meant that the graves could not be tended. There were also fears of the potential damage if the water was to freeze in the recent sub-zero temperatures.
The public footpath on the other side of the perimeter wall on the south side of the cemetery was closed to pedestrians, after the weather left it around two feet below water at its deepest point.
The water was cleared away the next day before any further damage could be caused. A drain near the graves, which could not be seen when the flooding was at its peak, is now clear and working again.
But as well as immediate drainage works to try and clear water, borough bosses have also promised to get to work on surveys to find the root of the problem as soon as they can.
Ernest Gibson, cabinet member for area management and community safety at South Tyneside Council, said work had already started with Northumbrian Water to deal with surface flooding.
He added: “In the short term, we have arranged for additional drainage to be installed to try and alleviate standing water on the paths, as well as jetting of the existing drainage to remove any blockages.
“We have also commissioned CCTV surveys of the drains.
“Following the camera surveys, we will be in a better position to assess if further work is needed to mitigate the risk of flooding recurring.
“We understand that this may be distressing for the relatives of loved ones buried in the cemetery and our officers, as well as Northumbrian Water operatives, are working to resolve the issue as soon as possible.”
The issue was raised at a meeting of the borough council’s Overview and Scrutiny Coordinating and Call-in Committee regular session quizzing the leader of the council.
Cllr Tracey Dixon told the panel the council hoped to ‘ensure that this doesn’t happen again’.
In a statement released after the meeting, Northumbrian Water confirmed it was working with South Tyneside Council to address the issue, but was unable to carry out a proper examination of the site yet until conditions allow.
A spokesperson for the company said: “We are really sorry that this has happened and apologise to anyone visiting the area.
“We’ve managed to return some flows to the drains there and this has allowed a lot of the standing water to drain away, however we’ll be regularly monitoring the situation while the weather remains poor.
“As soon as conditions improve we’ll carry out a CCTV survey and take a look inside the pipes to see what has caused the problem and carry out repairs to try and stop this from happening again.”
Residents and cemetery visitors are concerned that another prolonged spell of rain could see a repeat of the problem.
One resident said on social media media: “Been like this for years, hopefully now it will be repaired.”
However, Northumbrian Water say that flooding at the site has only been reported to them on two occasions since 1995.