There was a certain smell in the air at the southeast corner of the Raleigh National Cemetery if you were to walk by Tuesday morning. It was musky. The scent not overpowering, but something you can recognize when water has been sitting there for a while.
More than four dozen tombs were underwater. There were mud marks on graves indicating how the water was ever so slightly receding.
Some of the flooded tombs were for soldiers who fought in the infantry during World War I and an Army captain who led a company in the Vietnam War. Other graves were for service members who served during World War II and Korea.
“It’s really unfortunate that they’re not being taken care of like they should be.” We found extensive flooding Raleigh National Cemetery at a known trouble spot. Dozens of tombs are under water. A couple are for soldiers who served more than a century ago during WWI. #ABC11 pic.twitter.com/iwmERNaNXL— Elaina Athans (@AthansABC11) February 16, 2021
Their relatives certainly would not have been able to walk up to pay respects, honor their service, or leave flowers in their memory.
"This is a veteran's cemetery. It's really unfortunate that they're not being taken care of like they should be," said a nearby resident, who wanted to remain anonymous. "I walk my dog at least twice a day by the cemetery and almost 75 percent of the time, it's flooded like this."
The United States Department of Veteran Affairs owns and maintains the property.
ABC11 reached out about the known trouble spot and even passed along pictures of the flooding.
An official said there is a drainage issue in this section of the cemetery and the VA is working on a permanent fix. The design is out for bids now.
Hours after I pressed Veteran Affairs why the water wasn’t being pumped out and the graves cleared, a crew is now here. pic.twitter.com/eMh4ixZB1n— Elaina Athans (@AthansABC11) February 16, 2021
By mid-afternoon Tuesday and after ABC11's inquiry, a crew arrived to start pumping out the water.
"(The) VA remains committed to honoring our Nation's heroes by providing perpetual care and the highest level of grounds maintenance in all of our National Cemeteries," said National Cemetery Administration spokesman Les' A. Melnyk in a statement.
Nearly 6,000 people are buried at the Raleigh National Cemetery.
ABC11 drove around the property and a large majority of the headstones are fine. The VA said the problem at a section of the cemetery is supposed to be fixed by September.