Digest>Archives> Jan/Feb 2004

Hurricane Juan Hits Sambro Island

By Jeremy D'Entremont

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Stephen Tough, a deckhand or “lifeboatman” on the ...
Photo by: Chris Mills

Hurricane Juan belted Nova Scotia in late September, knocking down trees and power lines and causing tremendous property damage. In November, Chris Mills of the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society visited Sambro Island off Halifax, the site of North America’s oldest operating lighthouse, to survey the storm damage.

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Hurricane damage inside the gas house at Sambro ...
Photo by: Chris Mills

“I was impressed by damage to the island,” reports Mills. The storm surge actually peeled the turf away from the granite around the lighthouse, and along the granite/turf border at the top of the island on the southern exposure. We’re talking quite a distance from the sea, so the seas must have been tremendous.”

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Part of the undermined gas house foundation at ...
Photo by: Chris Mills

The seas during the hurricane came within a few feet of the abandoned keepers’ homes. “The storm surge took down an old wooden derrick on the island,” says Mills, “and undermined the granite block foundation of the ‘gas house,’ which was used for the manufacture of acetylene gas. The storm also took out part of the seaward wall of the gas house and the set of steps to the loft of the gas house.”

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More damage from Hurricane Juan to the gas house ...
Photo by: Chris Mills

There is some good news. “The tower, although wind-beaten, weathered the storm intact, standing stoically as it has since 1758,” Mills says.

But some other lighthouses in the area didn’t fare so well. Terence Bay Light, a little wooden tower a few miles west of Sambro Island, lost shingles on its seaward side. Little Hope Island Light on the south shore near Port Joli, a 77-foot buttressed concrete tower, sustained major damage to its concrete floor and has developed a list. Coast Guard crews reportedly have found it unsafe to climb the tower. “It will likely be demolished,” says Mills, “and replaced with a buoy. The tower was built around 1906, and lost its second order lantern and lens years ago.”

The Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society hopes to have the damage repaired at Sambro Island.

This story appeared in the Jan/Feb 2004 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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