5 days have passed since the storm surge on the evening of Thursday the 5th of December. Conditions were too difficult to land on Havergate immediately after the surge on the Friday. However, a slow sail round the island on Friday morning revealed at least two breaches in the wall and two of the hides at been floated out of position (main and Gullery). However, despite this it was considered that the island had not fared too badly.
However, the true extent of the damage was finally revealed on Tuesday morning when we were able to gain access to the interior of the island.
There have been over 20 slippages to the inside of the lagoon walls around the length of the island caused by the flood waters overtopping the walls. Doveys lagoon wall on the northern side is half the size it was on Wednesday with one hole.
All The lagoons are completely flooded and under about 8ft of water, in addition long meadow, the picnic area and most of the pathways are completely underwater. There has been major damage to the walls around the outlet sluices at main and Belpers and a huge breach of the wall at long meadow.
The interior lagoon wall between cottage flood and Belpers has gone, the surge has knocked a huge hole in the wall in the interior wall between Belpers lagoon and the pathway that runs along the outside of Belpers lagoon flooding both. Damage to the main hide is much worse than thought and it may not be salvageable.
I am reasonably optimistic that something can be made of Gullery lagoon, as has been noted before the toilet block is half way up a tree and last but not least the tractor shed is in pieces.
On the plus side the volunteer accommodation though flooded, looks okay, it should just be a case of repairing the carpets and some furnishings, the fridges and cookers seem to be okay.
So, after all that what next? Well, the flooding is almost completely superficial especially in the saline lagoon, the sluices are operating and draining the water and should have removed the flooding from all areas by sometime in later Jan early Feb. Ecologically these will operate as normal with no real lasting damage. Once the water is down then we will do what we can with the internal walls and external seawalls and repair the breaches with a digger.
The damage to the infrastructure is less easy to predict, if we can drag Gullery back into place then this may be open in March, as for Main, well we may have to wait a while before we can replace it. Though efforts will be made to salvage something from it.
There is obviously a huge cleanup operation to undertake with rubble and rubbish strewn everywhere, a boardwalk to put down and a volunteer huts to clean out and a tractor shed to sort out. However, at the moment any tidy up operation can wait until the water has receded and the island is a safe working environment once again.
Needless to say this all costs money and the RSPB has started an appeal to help us make the repairs to our coastal reserves. In addition, sadly, Havergate will be closed for the foreseeable future, tentatively we hope to reopen in March but more details will be given nearer the time. I apologise for anyone who was hoping to visit the island.
I know there has been some concern about the Hare population on the island, well there are at least 8 individuals present. However, it seems likely that in the short term the population will be somewhat reduced. Hares however, have a quick generational turnaround and will bounce back.
Spoonbill trees still standing!
It will take time to repair the island and to get it back into shape and I am confident we will but I doubt Havergate will ever be the same again.
Havergate will never look the same after storm Xaver, the flood it caused and the resulting damage to the infrastructure and hides on the island, which makes all the memories of this year's summer even more precious.Lesley Ribbens and her family have been amongst the fortunate ones who had the time of their lives on the island this summer, and you might have read the guest post written by her 8 year-old son Jacob which I published in September on this blog.She has told her version of the story for INVOLVE, the RSPB's volunteering newsletter for the South East Region Winter 2013 and has sent me a copy too.I thought such a lovely report is just what we all need within the pile of frustrating news about the upcoming massive repair works on the island, and therefore, please enjoy the two pages with her story, illustrated by Kevin Sawford's brilliant photos:
The events season in 2013 has been very busy on Havergate Island with a handful of fantastic 'first ever' events with brilliant response by our participants. I have written about the Days of Discovery and the Big Wild Sleepout in other posts already, but there is at least one more story to tell:
This year's success would not have been possible without the extremely motivated and enthusiastic volunteer team including the Photography Tutors, the Digiscoping Tutors and our Artist in Residence. All of them have strongly supported my publicity efforts and when I gathered their activities in a list for my end of season report I was overwhelmed by how active they have been to help get the word out about the island in 2013.
This post is entirely dedicated to my passionate volunteer team and the following is a chronological list of their posts about our beloved island:
21 February: Celia Bartlett posts on her blog "Havergate Island, Suffolk" www.ailecphotography.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/havergate-island-suffolk.html24 February: Celia Bartlett posts on her blog "Photography: Day of Discovery" www.ailecphotography.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/photography-day-of-discovery.html
6 March: Celia Bartlett posts on her blog "Mad March Hares" www.ailecphotography.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/mad-march-hares.html
22 April: Celia Bartlett posts on her blog "Havergate Day of Discovery" www.ailecphotography.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/havergate-day-of-discovery.html22 April: Tony Pick posts on his blog "Havergate Island – 21st April Photography Day of Discovery" www.tonypickphotography.co.uk/2013/04/havergate-islandphotography-day-of-discovery/
23 April: Danny Porter posts on his blog "RSPB Havergate Island "Photography: Days of Discovery" www.dannysdigiscoping.com/rspbdaysofdiscovery.htm
25 April: Tony Pick posts on his blog "Havergate Island: RSPB Photography Days of Discovery" www.tonypickphotography.co.uk/2013/04/rspb-havergateisland-photography-days-of-discovery/25 April: Ben Andrew, Adviser at RSPB Wildlife Enquiries in his day to day job, posts on the RSPB Wildlife blog "Hare Heaven at Havergate" www.rspb.org.uk/community/wildlife/b/wildlife/archive/2013/04/25/hare-heaven-at-havergate.aspx
18 May: Tony Pick posts on his blog "RSPB Havergate Island" www.tonypickphotography.co.uk/2013/05/rspb-havergate-island/24 May: Tony Pick posts on his blog "Flashing: prohibited on the island – for Photographers – but the Hare showed it all!" www.tonypickphotography.co.uk/2013/05/flashing-prohibited-on-the-island-for-photographers-but-the-hare-showed-it-all/
24 June: Liza Adamczewski posts on her blog "Havergate Island Weekend" www.lizaadamczewski.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/havergate-island-weekend/28 June: Celia Bartlett posts on her blog "Havergate Ahead..." www.ailecphotography.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/havergate-ahead.html
18 August: Liza Adamczewski posts on her blog " Big Wild Sleep out under a very Big Sky www.lizaadamczewski.wordpress.com/2013/08/18/big-wild-sleep-out-under-a-very-big-sky/31 August: Tony Pick posts on his blog "Havergate Island – ‘Days of Discovery’ Exhibition" www.tonypickphotography.co.uk/2013/08/havergate-island-days-of-discovery-exhibition/