Burials being delayed because of floods

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Burials being delayed as floods create dangerous conditions at graveyards

Floods in Somerset and the Thames Valley have seen funerals put on hold as wet ground is too dangerous for gravediggers.

The flood crisis is causing further anguish for bereaved families as wet ground is making burials impossible in the worst-hit areas.

Authorities say there is little they can do about weather-related funeral delays that have been described as "absolutely abnormal". While families face the possibility of extra distress, the floods have created dangerous conditions for gravediggers.

Crematoriums have not been immune from the issue either, with one having to close for about two months due to flooding. The chief executive of the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management, Tim Morris, said it was "absolutely terrible for people". He said: "It's actually all around the major flooded areas."
Having been involved in burial and cremation for more than 30 years, Morris said he has never known cemeteries to be affected by the weather to this extent. "It's just absolutely abnormal," he said.

Morris said places along the river Thames and in Somerset were affected, but also cemeteries outside those flooded areas where ground is waterlogged, causing difficulties in digging graves.
Morris said it was easier to protect a property than to protect a cemetery. He said as soon as the surface water was gone, authorities would do everything possible to ensure that affected cemeteries were operational again.

Morris said that due to a lot of burials taking place in family graves, people would not opt for a cremation over a burial due to the weather. He added that mortuaries were able to store bodies for long periods.
He said: "It's common sense, really. Hopefully most people will understand that, although it's causing extra distress, it's the weather that's causing it, not people."

Natasha Bradshaw, the manager of Mortlake Crematorium in south-west London, said her crematorium was unaffected despite being next to the river, but having worked in cemeteries before she expressed sympathy for people working in them at this time.

She said crematoriums were not as badly affected because people could find another one nearby if there were problems with their first choice, although she said this would be stressful for the people involved.
Randalls Park Crematorium in Leatherhead, Surrey, flooded on Christmas Eve and had to close. A spokesman said it is expected to reopen at the end of this month. The river Mole runs through the grounds of the crematorium and the spokesman said that in 25 years there had never been a flood.

Source: The Guardian.
Photograph: Michael Scott/Demotix/Corbis 

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