Army Corps of Engineers to visit Umatac Cemetery - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Army Corps of Engineers to visit Umatac Cemetery

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by Michele Catahay

Guam - Residents in Umatac are hoping for some resolution when it comes to mitigating the erosion problems at the village cemetery. Representatives from the Army Corps of Engineers will be on Guam this week to assess the situation.

For the past several years, Umatac Mayor Dean Sanchez has been trying to get some help from the local government when it comes to fixing the erosion problem at the village cemetery. According to Sanchez, the good news is that the Army Corps of Engineers will be visiting the site this week. The bad news is that he isn't sure if anything can be done on their part. The Army Corps of Engineers has jurisdiction over the shoreline, but not the land above it.

The mayor says he's been trying to get some help from the government for the last ten years.  "I've actually sent a state of emergency letter to the previous governor and I've addressed the same letter to Governor Eddie Calvo," he explained, "and I'm hoping there will be more positive responses from the Administration now than we have in the last ten years. It's been so poor. I'm worried about the health hazards of our residents down here, more so the visitors who come down south to use the facilities."

The problem is that the cemetery is located on private property, which was given to the residents to use as a cemetery. Sanchez says any mitigation efforts will take the help of the local departments in order to determine who can take the lead in this project. To date, Sanchez says they've already lost a few gravesites, which have since caved into a hole as a result of the inclement weather. He says it not only poses a safety hazard, but they still need to determine how much it'll cost to fix the problem.

Sanchez says he fears that the residents may have to fork out the bill for this. He added, "Other considerations is that the people of Umatac may have to fork out the cost. And it seems rather crazy that among all the cemeteries on island, this is the only one that belongs to the people. So that was a consideration that I had to throw out to the residents. We may have to work together to make this happen for us because apparently all the past efforts have yielded any positive responses."

Sanchez says although the Army Corps of Engineers has jurisdiction of the shoreside, he says they're willing to offer some assistance. "They say they may find some way to mitigate the problem if there is a consensus with the department, the people of Umatac will work together to find a medium of responsibilities and its divided upon the respective entities."

Sanchez says there needs to be a solution before the entire cemetery falls from the cliffline. In the meantime, the Army Corps of Engineers is expected to visit Umatac on Wednesday.

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