Posted May 18, 2008
Volunteers Saddened by May 11-12 Nor'easter Damage at Harbor of Refuge
Everything that had been accomplished on May 3 -- and more -- was wiped out. Last year's new deck -- which had just been reinstalled after spending the winter safely inside the lighthouse -- had been ripped from the iron girders and washed out to sea. All of the sturdy wooden foundation laid on the girders was gone. Planks were torn from the upper deck. Safety railings were missing. Steps were nowhere to be found.
Beneath one end of the upper deck where several large breakwater stones had supported the iron frame, there was only a gaping void. Erosion of the breakwater from under the south side of the lighthouse didn't appear to be much worse. But the black hole of missing stones under the north side had grown.
And as the launch approached the lighthouse in choppy seas at high tide, workers could see that the ocean has finally cut a crooked route through the top row of capstones on the breakwater wall.
Deeply discouraged, but not defeated, nine volunteers set to work. In the short time available, emergency repairs had to be made and the lighthouse had to be readied once again for the tour season that begins May 31.
Fortunately, the Foundation had ordered a spare section of the composite decking last year. Insurance against just such an occasion as this. And now that the spare is in use, another will be ordered.
Plans had called for all of Saturday's volunteer efforts to be focused on paint removal in the Watch Room and the Gallery Level. Instead, the strongest half of the crew had to be diverted to hard labor on the outside of the light. Fortunately all of them -- John Gordon, Mark Lizzi, Red Moulinier and Jerry Perrin -- were old hands at building docks and repairing decks.
Inside, three members from Maryland -- Paula and Lauren Liebrecht and Sandra Sableski -- along with Ruth Africa and Judith Roales took on other tasks, including some paint removal.
Ready again. It was, volunteers recollected, the eighth time the lower dock has been replaced.