Park officials at Fort Sumter National Monument say they do not yet know when the popular site will reopen after Tropical Storm Irma last week.
A National Park Service spokeswoman said repairs are still needed to a dock which receives ferry passengers from the mainland, restrooms on the island and other infrastructure. Flooding also covered the fort’s low-lying areas, although spokeswoman Dawn Davis said it does not appear to have caused significant damage to the site’s historic sections.
“It’s as good as it can be in that it’s only (damaged) the modern things that we can fix,” she told South Carolina Radio Network.
Davis said some handrails along the ferry’s dock need to be repaired and inspected to make sure they’re safe for the thousands who visit the fort every day. She also said work is needed to restore restrooms damaged by the storm. The park’s cannons and other outdoor artifacts will also need to be cleaned, she said.
While most of the damage is relatively minor, repairs are complicated by the National Park Service’s attention focused on its much more-heavily damaged units in Florida and the Caribbean.
Davis said she does not yet know of a timeline when the park would reopen. Tour boats still travel up close to the fort, but cannot yet drop off visitors.
“We’re just as anxious to share the story of the fort and get people back out there,” she said. “But we obviously want to do it in the safest manner that protects visitors and protects the resource.”
Fort Sumter is famous as the site of the first Civil War battle, when South Carolina militia and state artillery units opened fire on a Union garrison manning the fort. The fort surrendered after a day of bombardment. No one was killed in the battle, although two U.S. soldiers when a cannon exploded during a 100-gun salute as part of the fort’s surrender.