MAURICE RIVER TOWNSHIP — The caretakers of the historic East Point Lighthouse are bracing for another nor’easter, after last week’s destroyed dunes on the west side that had been protecting it.

“We are in a panic if this storm does the same thing,” said Nancy Patterson, president of the Maurice River Historical Society.

The group manages the lighthouse, which is owned by the state.

She said the county and township sent workers and equipment to move sand back to the western side of the lighthouse where the berm was, but it will need to be rebuilt soon.

The berm had been eroding for a while, said Patterson, who lives in Mauricetown in Commercial Township.

The group thought they had dodged a bullet when damage seemed minimal Saturday.

“We checked on it Saturday late. We could see more erosion and damage to the berm but it had held for the most part,” said Patterson. “We said, ‘Whew, we made it through another storm.’”

But then Sunday, the area got hit with much higher tides than expected, she said.

“It was a beautiful, sunny day two days past the storm when we had the most trouble,” said Patterson. “It was a surprise and a very disappointing one.”

She said volunteers tried to get out to the lighthouse at 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., to prepare to open it to the public by 1 p.m.

But they couldn’t get out to it because of flooded roads, so couldn’t open it to the public at all.

When they finally made it out to the lighthouse later, the water was just feet from the structure and the dune was “just devastated.”

The gravel parking lot was completely washed out, with much of the gravel gone, Patterson said.

The property needs a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plan to protect it for the long term, Patterson said. But red tape and complications involving nearby landowners have kept that from happening, she said.

The lighthouse at 10 Lighthouse Road in the Heislerville section dates to 1849 and is the last surviving land-based lighthouse on the Delaware Bay.

It is open 1 to 4 p.m. the first and third Saturdays and Sundays of the month. Call 856-785-0349.

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Contact: 609-272-7219 Twitter @MichelleBPost

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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