“It was devastating, we estimate that up to 300 trees are down blocking many of our favorite paths that people like to take on our trails,” said Joel Cadoff, a park ranger who’s chief of interpretation at Fort Pulaski. “In addition, just about every single building had some sort of flood damage.”
Cadoff was among a group of rangers that gave reporter a tour of damage done by Hurricane Matthew. It seems in some ways what time and the Civil War did not do, the hurricane did.
The Visitor Center, one of the most important points for a first impression for visitors, was flooded. A picture from the Park Service shows rangers in boats all over the area. The water is down now, but the room stinks of mildew and there are big fans running. We are told that the collections that give a stranger the issue of the national monument, were moved in time. But the building is just one many sites that needs repairs.
The draw bridge that takes one over the famous moat into the inside of the fort just washed away in the flood waters. A temporary bridge has been constructed to allow maintenance crews to get in and out of the area to work.
Inside the fort, a huge tree is down but we’re told the favorite fig tree may survive. Still, there are water marks inside all of the buildings that showed displays of vintage clothing and offered up more historical information on why the fort was so significant.
“It’s really kind of looking at those high water marks in many of those places and if you were standing there you would be under water and that’s just amazing,” said Cadoff.
He also says a planned reopening date of around the first of November is probably going to have to be pushed back. “It’s a wait and see,” he told us. “I mean there’s just so much that needs to be done as we evaluate the actual damage that we’ve received and then we hve to look at not only the safety for our visitors but also for our staff before we can open.”