More than 60 graves were damaged and the stability of Thalaba Community Church was compromised during the super storm which hit the area on April 21.
Eddie Rumbel and Trevor Eyb said they have never seen anything like the damage caused to the 150-year-old property in the time they have been involved with the church.
“The creek comes up and a bit of water may wash over the graves and leaves a few sticks, but nothing like this,” Eddie said.
“The last time this happened during the Pasha Bulker storm in 2007, water only covered about a third of the graveyard – this time it was more like two-thirds.
“There are 150 graves here and at least 60 of them have some sort of damage with some a lot worse than others.
“It is unbelievable to see solid headstones knocked off the graves and in some cases, moved quite a distance.”
The first burials in the cemetery started in 1859 however it was another 10 years before the church was built.
“The damage to the church is fairly severe and the piers are damaged,” Trevor said.
“The piers closest to the cemetery side of the building have sunk into the ground and if you sit in the back of the church, there is a three inch drop all along the wall.
“The church is really straining under the pressure.
“There is nothing we can do but close the church until repairs are done.
“Hopefully it will only be a few months but we have to consider the safety of the congregation.”
Assessors have been out to see the damage and have “indicated” they will fix the problem.
“But we want everyone to know that no matter what happens, all the graves will be restored as soon as possible at no cost to the families,” Eddie said.
“There won’t be much change out of $40,000 to fix the church and S R Horder Stonemasons have gone through the cemetery but have yet to work out the cost of repairs to the graves.
“A lot of the older headstones have broken but the newer ones just seemed to be cushioned by the water and were just moved from their original location.
“The fence being washed onto the graves caused a lot of the damage.”
Article originally appeared in Dungog Chronicle.
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