Following the departure of Hurricane Isabel, Delaware River & Bay Lighthouse Foundation volunteers (DRBLHF) set out for Delaware’s Harbor of Refuge Light on Sunday, September 21st. The question on the mind of each work crewmember was how much damage they would find upon arriving at the light. Would the dock be there? How many windows broke? Would there be water damage in the structure? All these questions and more would be answered soon enough as the unknown in the aftermath of the storm would be brought to light.
To no one’s surprise, it was discovered that the monstrous waves that swept over the National Harbor of Refuge Breakwater during the hurricane had indeed destroyed the wood deck on the lower landing. In fact, the powerful seas dislodged huge stones weighing a few tons each from the breakwater wall. In addition, a section of fiberglass on the upper landing was washed away and the watchroom window on the southeast side of the lighthouse was blown out by the strong winds.
Originally, this work trip was going to be totally focused on prepping and repainting the white superstructure of the lighthouse, but following Isabel’s visit, priorities were revised to include repairs to the storm-inflicted damage. The DRBLHF’s eight-person crew split into three groups in order to attain maximum production on a variety of items.
Tom Craft and Greg Ositko set out to remove the damaged wood on the lower dock, Charley Kopp, Herb Von Goerres and Charlie Podedworny headed for the upper deck outside the watchroom to begin prepping the railing and exterior for repainting, and Red Moulinier, James Kennedy and Bob Trapani tackled the remaining work left unfinished from repainting the caisson of the lighthouse.
Before long, the sound of the drills, saws, grinders and generator made the simple task of talking a challenge over the noise of volunteers in action. As the day wore on, the volunteers added the accomplishments of applying primer to sanded surfaces, fixing the broken watchroom window and building a new landing area to their list of completed tasks.
Despite the damage inflicted on the light, the DRBLHF volunteers were undaunted as they successfully teamed up to rise above the setbacks to their ongoing progress of restoring Harbor of Refuge Lighthouse.
Once again, the mettle of the volunteers was tested, and once more, these special individuals proved they were up for the challenge. Nothing less than this indomitable spirit is required to keep pace with preserving such an exposed, offshore lighthouse and the organization is proud to show the lighthouse community it has what it takes against such challenges to its efforts.
This story appeared in the
November 2003 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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