Saturday, October 1, 2011



When the weather looks as fine as it appears in the photo above, we're right with the world.  However, these pleasant looking, low cumulus clouds sailed southward on the tail end of winds that had blown down trees and knocked out electrical power, both on Washington Island and the Door Peninsula.

School House Beach, Friday morning

Forecast with precision, a cold air, high pressure system finally pushed a low to the eastern Great Lakes.  It had been sitting over northern Illinois since last weekend and was the source of much needed rain here, rain clouds that circulated east-to-west in counter clockwise fashion.  We made all scheduled ferry trips Thursday, as winds shifted to the north and velocities increased.  Around 9 pm our house shuddered.  Over the evening, heavy rains and sharp blasts blew down trees and broke power poles on the peninsula.  Our power remained out until 4 am Saturday.   The north end of Washington Island is still without power, from downed trees over power lines, we presume.

Maggie Swanson answers a generator-powered phone
at the Ferry Dock Friday as Bill Schutz looks on.
Power was restored early Saturday morning to
the Island's south customers.

As we, and many others, took the customary drive around the island to see the extent of damage, watch the waves at School House Beach, and commiserate with friends and co-workers about the lack of power, others gathered at either the Danish Mill (which had its own generator) and KK Fiske (gas stoves, and a source of water next door at the REA) for food and information.   Those two places did a great businesses as they were among the very few places still open.

Down at Holiday Inn on Detroit Harbor, where one would normally think it was protected from northerly gusts, the Lions Club tent that had been erected for a wedding there was not only knocked down, it was torn into pieces by the wind.  The wedding celebration, which is taking place as we write, will be held indoors at the Inn.

Anticipating we might not run Friday morning due to the predicted winds, our crews held in until 1 pm, then started making the scheduled trips.   The Northport Terminal building, normally locked, had been left open for those who might arrive to wait for the ferry.  That was, in retrospect, a mistake, because the northern peninsula power outage meant no water pressure for flushing toilets, and no lights in the rest rooms.  These two omissions, however, didn't stop those who needed to use them, or the dozens of cars who were doing the same thing we were on Washington Island:   driving around to inspect storm damage and looking for a place that had open bathrooms!  It might have been a very ugly scene, had it continued without supervision, but Hoyt rode across on Friday's first afternoon ferry.  He intended to cut and remove downed trees in the parking lot and organize freight in the garage, but nearly all of the first two hours were spend flushing toilets with buckets of water hauled from the dock.


Two of Ivan and Micki's "Poopsie's Pots" in Packer green and gold were soon on their way by ferry from the island to stand in for the decommissioned indoor facilities.   And when morning came, daylight and electric lights revealed a surprisingly clean set of rest rooms, thanks to a considerate public.

Attached are several shots taken during Friday.  (The cedar with large burl was taken at People's Park.)

Fall is here!  -  Dick Purinton

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