St George still has Fabian damage to patch up
St George has learned lessons from the battering of Hurricane Fabian but more work must be done to safeguard the town, according to the Corporation of St George.
The municipality has already spent around a million dollars over the past ten years repairing the damage inflicted by Fabian, including extensive work on Town Hall, but holes in the town's dock face remain areas of concern.
Mayor Garth Rothwell said: “I think our main concern is we have got these two holes, one in Penno's [Wharf] and one in Ordnance Island that have to get repaired quickly. There's another one at the car park. We have to patch those up and that will at least prevent any collapses.”
Repair work on the dock has been set back due to cost, with work not expected to be finished until next March, leaving the town potentially vulnerable this year.
Corporation Secretary Courtney Trott said the storm did extensive damage to the Town Hall. Water flooded the historic building, while winds raised and dropped the roof.
On the eastern side of Ordnance Island waves tore down a wall, causing flooding in the Corporation headquarters less than a week after staff moved in.
“When Fabian struck us we were five days into our office, which everyone was so pleased about,” he said. “We had about three inches of water in here.
“And at Penno's [Wharf] the storm threw the fenders straight through the sliding doors at the terminal, so we had to buy two new doors as well as deal with the copious amounts of water in the terminal.”
He said the storm also washed away a section of Penno's Drive, but Corporation staff placed boulders, back-filled the area and paved the surface within a week as a “temporary fix” which is still in place.
“It is secure,” Mr Trott said. “We're not worried about that.”
Mr Rothwell said little could be done about the issue of flooding in the town due to its location, its height above sea level and its drainage system, but he was optimistic that a proposed marine project on Ordnance Island could help mitigate damage in future storms.
“If the marina goes ahead, that breakwater will protect us from the wind coming through St George's channel and that will protect Ordnance Island and the bit by the parking lot,” he said. “It won't do anything about the tide, it won't do anything about the surge, but it will take the tops off the waves, which is another five feet. I suppose the town square would still flood, but we wouldn't get the full force.”
St George's Preparatory School was extensively damaged by the storm, but principal Mary Lodge said the greater loss for the school was that two students lost family members on the Causeway.
She said the section of the school most extensively damaged was around 80 years old and in need of work before the storm, joking: “It's a hell of a way to remodel.
“We believe it was a tornado. There were a few students who lived in the houses across the street. They said it sounded like a train that was coming towards their house, but it veered and instead hit a school which was empty. You have to look on the bright side.”
She also noted the generosity of people in the aftermath of the storm, with numerous offers to help the school get back on its feet.
“We had one little old lady, 82 years old, who came to us,” she said. “She baked the students cookies.”