Parts Of Jewish Cemetery Constantly Flooded, Visitor Says

(CBS) – When a loved one dies, you don’t expect their final resting place to be a flooded, swampy mess.

As CBS 2’s Mai Martinez reports, that’s the reality for dozens of graves at one west suburban cemetery.

Waldheim Jewish Cemetery in Forest Park has a long and rich history serving Chicagoland since the 1870s.

Eric Finkelstein’s grandparents and father are all buried here.

But these days, he’s more concerned about the graves of strangers located in a flooded area of the cemetery, run by Silverman and Weiss.

“It’s a disaster. It’s so bad. I can’t believe I’m seeing something like this,” Finkelstein says.

“If my dad was buried over there, I would be screaming and yelling. I’m just surprised that, really, nobody has really done anything.”

He speculates the standing water is coming from the Des Plaines River and settling on the low ground.

Chopper 2 shows how close the river is and the extent of the flooding in at least two sections of the cemetery. In one area, graves are completely submerged.

A bit closer, Drone 2 shows how far underwater some plots are; headstones are missing from many, leaving only a base.

Finkelstein says he doesn’t remember a time when the cemetery hasn’t been flooded.

“I’ve been coming here all my life. I want to see something done about this. This is bad,” he says.

Finkelstein hopes by drawing attention to the flooding, something will finally be done to stop it or at least relocate the graves.

Silverman and Weiss says they try to pump the water out of the area as often as possible when it’s flooded, but recent rains have made it difficult and there are village restrictions that don’t allow them to pump the water into the sewer system.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation promises to look into the situation.

On Thursday, CBS 2 visited the cemetery after intense rains. One pump could be observed working, but much standing water remained.

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