A new round of Sandy funding may be a saving grace for one of New Jersey’s most historic places.
You can just make out Romer Shoal Lighthouse from the northern tip of Sandy Hook.
The horn is automated and still in working condition.
The light atop still flashes every 15 seconds to guide boats safely by the shallow waters and into New York Harbor.
But get up close and you can see the damage superstorm Sandy has done.
Romer Shoal will turn 128 years old next month. It stands alone on a manmade platform, it’s foundation is now crumbling and exposed. The sides are rusted. Windows and doors are blown out two stories up.
“There is a significant danger this light could fall into the ocean. Its sister light, Old Orchard, was blown off it’s base by Hurricane Sandy and we want to keep this light from suffering the same fate,” said Keith Kilgannon from the Romer Shoal Lighthouse.
Kilgannon is president of a non profit group founded to save the structure. He says that during Sandy, surging ocean waters rose above the white paint, creating almost a washing machine effect inside.
The Coast Guard has been unable reach the light for maintenance since Sandy.
“There is no chance of getting a boat to where it can unload supplies safely,” said Kilgannon.
The docking area has been destroyed– the rocks meant to protect the structure crumbled all around it. Making it treacherous for boats to get anywhere close.
But Kilgannon hopes help may be coming soon. The Governor’s Administration announced just last week– $8 million in Sandy Disaster Relief Grants will now be available just for historic properties.
“We’re thrilled about this is money that will do a lot of good. Without this funding these properties may be lost in time,” said Preservation New Jersey President Michael Hanrahan.
Preservation New Jersey named the light to it’s list of the Top 10 Most Endangered Historic Places this year. Kilgannon’s group has until the end of the month to apply for the Sandy grant funding.
“A grant like this one could absolutely make the difference between saving this light and giving up on it,” said Kilgannon.
They say if they get the funding they need, the first thing they’re gonna do is address the foundation and replace a lot of the rocks that Sandy blew out. In order to try and protect this lighthouse in the future.