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April-November 2003InteractiveDig Mount Vernon
The distillery site after hurricane Isabel. The "scum line" goes up to the line of sand bags in about the middle of the site.
Our screens apparently float. This one was moved a couple feet towards the site by the storm surge.

Photos courtesy Historic Mount Vernon. Click on images for larger versions.
by Eleanor Breen

Weathering Hurricane Isabel!

Much of the end of last week was spent battening down the hatches in preparation for the big hurricane that hit the mid-Atlantic region. We sandbagged the distillery site so the protective tarps wouldn't blow off and to keep water from seeping in the edges of the excavation, and we put our lighter equipment in storage. We also helped out at the mansion, filling sand bags to be used as barriers at the house and the inn restaurant. Mount Vernon was closed Thursday afternoon through Friday night. The mansion was boarded up tight--plywood on the windows, shutters closed, and the doors sandbagged. Inside the house, the fragile objects were taken down from mantels and tables and the most valuable items were removed to storage.

When Mount Vernon reopened on Friday, everyone was happy to see that the estate was spared major damage. We lost power and water for a couple days. A pecan and one of the original white ash trees near the house lost large limbs. The low-lying Pioneer Farm exhibit flooded. The gristmill flooded, water reaching two and a half feet on the first floor. Both the gristmill and the distillery site fell victim to a major storm surge that caused nearby Dogue Creek to breach its banks. The creek water made its way into the site and, judging by the scum and debris left in its wake, we think water covered about a third of the site. The storm damage could have been much worse, of course, especially if the hurricane had hit the coast as a level 5 as originally predicted. You can imagine we've got a lot of cleaning up and drying out to do over the next couple days.

Thanks for tuning in and we'll update you soon!

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