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Environment


Cleveland's Edgewater Marina is done before the season begins

Superstorm Sandy leaves her mark, six months later and hundred of miles from landfall
by WKSU's M.L. SCHULTZE



Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
 
SLIDESHOW: It'll take an estimated $9 million and many more months to undo the damage Superstorm Sandy did to Edgewater Marina.
Courtesy of M.L. Schultze
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This was going to be a season of change for Cleveland’s Edgewater Marina anyway. It, another marina and four other parks that hug Lake Erie, are moving from the state’s control to Cleveland Metroparks. But, as WKSU’s M.L. Schultze reports, Superstorm Sandy has spawned a far more drastic change than anyone anticipated.

SCHULTZE: A long winter and short season for Edgewater Marina

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Ann McCarthy’s been office manager at the Edgewater Marina for about a year. The phone keeps ringing in the tiny office about 50 yards from Lake Erie; and she keeps smiling.

She'd worked similar jobs for about seven years and thought this would a relaxing part-time gig. “And it’s been full time and crazy ever since.”

She runs through the marina’s routine.


“We store boats in the winter time; we launch them in the spring time; we, up until this year, had dockage for the summer….”

 Up until this year. That changed late last October, when Superstorm Sandy crashed ashore in New Jersey, making herself felt hundreds of miles away, including along Lake Erie. By the time Sandy was done, Edgewater’s docks were gone, its break wall breached and – as the marina learned just last week  – its 2013 boating season was done.

The sounds of destruction
“Hurricane Sandy came in over the wall, … banged the boats around. Some boats pulled the docks down; some docks pulled the boats down.  Pretty much there was not a boat in here that wasn’t harmed. Thirty sank was the final count, and they’ve all been pulled of the lake and taken to mostly junk yards.”

McCarthy got her first glimpse of it at all in the predawn October morning, as she pulled through the gate into the marina lot. Her headlights shined out onto a Lake Erie she didn’t recognize.

“There were just masts and boats crashing into each other. The sound of fiberglass crunching and the sound of the masts that were still up clanking. It was the biggest waves I’ve ever seen -- from what I could see at 6 in the morning. … As daylight came, it became apparent that it was beyond recognition.”

A slow recovery
It looks a lot different now. A massive crane aboard a more massive barge is pulling up the last of the twisted pieces of metal. Flotsam gathers in corners where the water meets the shore.

The break wall looks gap-toothed, with rocks missing on the top and structural damage under that.

“This is what we’re left with. Two humongous barges that have been working pretty much nonstop since the storm started, except when the water froze. Removing the docks, this is the last one that will be removed. They torch things to get them apart easier.”

After all, this is not simple wooden dock.

“They’ve taken out many, many, many pilings that went to the docks… that were about 20 feet under the water that were holding the docks. And all this has to be removed, and then they’ll dredge it and hopefully put the new docks in.”

The dredging alone is a massive undertaking. Enough sand poured over the break wall to take a water depth of 8-10 feet down to as little as 1.

Hoped for timetable falls through
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources had hoped the work would be done in time for this boating season. But everything slowed during the harsh winter, and the state says it finally decided it could not get the work done the way it needed to be done. Last week, it sent McCarthy’s company, FDL Marine Inc., a letter.

Joe Anderson owns FDL. He’s got a whimsical side. FDL stands for Fleur-de-Lis, and his 8-year-old cockapoo, Brianna, is the office’s unofficial  manager.

He’s staying philosophical – and in business. He’s referring some boaters to other marinas and will continue to sell bait, fuel and other sundries at Edgewater.

Average working Joes
And “for those boaters that just want to leave their boat on land, we’re honoring our winter-storage prices. … We’ll probably hold some band parties out here for them. Boaters are understanding, they all understand what’s taken place, and they’re very supportive.”

Ann McCarthy agrees the boaters are patient, what she calls “average working Joes.”

“We’re not millionaires. We like to have a little fun without spending a ton of money. And almost all the boaters I’m sure love the fact that, if you spend the night on your boat, you wake up, you’re looking out onto the lake. It’s absolutely gorgeous.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is expected to pay about three-quarters of the $9 million cost of demolishing and rebuilding the marina. The state will pay the rest.

Meanwhile, refunds for winter storage and summer dock deposits – finally cleared by insurance companies – are going to help some others recover from what McCarthy calls “the never-ending storm.”

(Click image for larger view.)

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