'You shouldn't have to bury them twice': Mudslides threaten family's private cemetery

Posted at 9:55 PM, Aug 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-29 07:10:49-04

LETCHER COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — One Letcher County family's private cemetery is literally slipping away right in front of them.

The graves sit on a hill, but mudslides from July's severe flooding are causing the grounds to erode.

The Ritchie family turned the land into a cemetery in the 1950s.

Currently, eight family members are buried on the grounds. Among them are Gabrielle Ritchie's grandparents John and Frieda. Her father Anthony was also buried there in 2001.

"It was really traumatizing," Ritchie recalled.

Now, she and her family might have to relive the nightmare.

Mudslides from July's floodwaters have started to eat away at the hill, and the damage may push the graves over the edge and reveal her loved one's final resting place.

"The family that lives below contacted me and said that the graves were going to come off the hill if it got any more rain," Ritchie explained.

Ritchie's cousin Jonathan Burke lives in the home directly below the cemetery.

He said he was quoted around $80,000 to have the graves relocated.

"The county, they've been up here on July 26th and said it's not their problem. FEMA is not wanting to help. We don't have no help," said Burke's wife Samantha.

"My worst fear is all these coming off and all of us having to bury our loved ones again.".