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P.E.I. lighthouse spared from Dorian damage

Photographer Lowell Palmer joins other beach-goers in capturing photos to document how hurricane Dorian has altered the look of the West Point beach beside the West Point Lighthouse.
Photographer Lowell Palmer joins other beach-goers in capturing photos to document how hurricane Dorian has altered the look of the West Point beach beside the West Point Lighthouse. - Eric McCarthy

Severe washouts on either side of protective wall guarding West Point light

WEST POINT, P.E.I. —

A protective seawall did its job over the weekend, shielding P.E.I.'s iconic West Point Lighthouse from the blunt force of hurricane Dorian. 

There is destruction visible to the shoreline both east and the west of the lighthouse, but O’Leary-Inverness Liberal MLA Robert Henderson said Monday the slanted wall, consisting primarily of stones and timber, protected the lighthouse from getting a pounding from the storm seas.

Henderson said there were plans to extend the wall further towards the adjacent Cedar Dunes Provincial Park, but that plan changed this summer to a line of concrete barriers with a wall of sand between it and the beach.

It stayed in place from early July until last weekend's storm.

“I thought it might have lasted longer than it did,” he said.

The provincial park was also flooded by stormy seas, but Henderson believes it escaped any extensive damage. Flood waters have washed through the park before, he said, suggesting they will again. The park, which was initially scheduled to remain open to campers until Sept. 15, was vacant Monday and is now closed for the season. 

“What was tried, the short-term solution, did not work at all,” he said. He will be trying to convince the Progressive Conservative government to return to the initial plan and extend the wall protecting the lighthouse.

“It protected the lighthouse, which was the original intention,” he said.

Photographer Lowell Palmer was capturing the new beachfront on Monday, during a tour of West Prince in Dorian’s wake. 

“Another storm would likely play havoc with that, for sure,” he said, suggesting wind direction might have helped spare the structure, too. 

“The thing is, it was north. If it had been west or something like that, it would’ve been worse, absolutely. “

West Point resident and longtime advocate for lighthouse preservation, Carol Livingstone, is also convinced the wall spared the iconic lighthouse from serious harm. 

“It ate in further both north and south of the lighthouse, but mainly, it’s the damage to the barricades,” she said, describing Dorian’s force. 

All of the sand from in front of the barricades was washed out to sea or carried into the parking area, and the row of concrete barricades was left curved and zigzagged. 

She has seen major changes in the shoreline in front of the lighthouse in the past decade and believes the tall structure, which also has guest accommodations built on, will eventually have to be relocated. 

Whether it is moved or has more protection placed in front of it, Livingstone insists the facility is too important an economic generator and community attraction to let the forces of nature take control.

Beach-goers capture photos to document how hurricane Dorian has altered the look of the West Point beach beside the West Point Lighthouse.
Beach-goers capture photos to document how hurricane Dorian has altered the look of the West Point beach beside the West Point Lighthouse.

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