ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Nearly 400 people are taking action in a lawsuit against Pulte Home Company after the Oakland-Tildenville Cemetery, a historically African-American grave site, flooded in 2020.

The 370 plaintiffs listed in the lawsuit allege the 100-year-old cemetery flooded because the developer redirected water away from one of their new neighborhoods..

What You Need To Know

  • Pulte Homes, headquarted in Georgia, was the company behind Longleaf at Oakland, a development near the cemetery

  • Lawyers allege Pulte constructed a culvert after realizing an entrance for their neighborhood would have flooding issues

  • After the major flood in 2020 drew attention, Pulte told Spectrum News that it's community was not the source of the water. However, the latest lawsuit alleges otherwise

In September 2020, families found portions of the property underwater, with some headstones inaccessible, while others were unaffected.

“My son, my grandma, my uncle, cousin, my great grandma,” Shequilla Scafine said three years ago. “I have many loved ones out here floating. My grandmother, you can’t even see her grave. She’s fully underwater.”

“The defendants constructed a second entrance drive into their new, ‘luxury’ subdivision, Longleaf at Oakland, and when it was clear that the drive would have serious flooding issues, the defendants recklessly and wantonly added a culvert that forced all of the runoff water to rush into the historic Oakland Tildenville Cemetery,” lawyers said in the lawsuit.

Pulte Home Company and the property designer S&ME are both named as defendants. Documents provided in the lawsuit suggest there was communication between S&ME and the Public Works director. However, S&ME stated the flooding was due to low-lying, poor soil rather than their own actions.

In 2020, Pulte Homes shared the following statement: “While our community is not the source of the water, we share in the community’s commitment to preserving this historic site and being good neighbors where we build.”

The plaintiffs are requesting a jury trial for this lawsuit.