March 9th Update: http://eleutheranews.com/?p=16340
(March 7th Update) The Glass Window Bridge, which connects Central and North Eleuthera remained officially closed on Wednesday, March 7th, 2018, after being continually impacted by huge wave swells since Sunday afternoon, March 4th.
Although the towering waves had subsided somewhat on Wednesday afternoon, the waters of the Atlantic were still extremely rough. After an impromptu ferry service had been organized on Tuesday, as well as a temporary docking facility erected at the northern end of the Glass Window Bridge, a turn in the weather overnight on Tuesday saw the relatively calm waters of the Bight of Eleuthera, become rough and choppy as well. This resulted in the ferry service being halted on Wednesday morning.
A group of eight local Eleutherans, early on Wednesday morning, as the ferry service was no longer available, decided to risk the crossing on foot, travelling from the northern end of the bridge to the south, and while crossing were reported as having been swept of off the bridge by a wave. Police reported that seven people were injured, with two having to be transported to New Providence for further medical treatment. Police were on the ground at both ends of the bridge later on Wednesday morning and throughout the day to further enforce the closure, and strongly urged both residents and visitors to stay away from the area.
Police also reported that the search by U.S. Coast Guard for the young man who went missing after being swept off of a cliff in the Queen’s Baths area near the bridge early on Monday morning, continues. Friends of the missing man were seen near the location of the incident on Wednesday, as they communicated with authorities. The missing young man was identified as 19 year old, Jonathon Brussow of Belmont, Michigan, U.S.A., who had been on vacation with his friends.
The areas surrounding the bridge showed evidence of major damage as a result of the watery assault since the weekend. Overnight on Sunday, a strong current of water from the Atlantic Ocean which streamed across Queen’s Highway, just south of Daddy Joe’s Restaurant, cut an 8ft deep, 25ft wide channel into the main road, which on Wednesday continued to flow, fully obstructing vehicular traffic traveling north towards the bridge. This current formed an outflow channel all the way through to Gaulding Cay beach, causing seas on both sides to meet.
Gaulding Cay Beach has seen serious erosion during the past several days, with just a smaller strip of beach now remaining compared to the wider typical expanse, and more areas of exposed rock . The endpoint of the channel from the Atlantic cutting across Queen’s Highway also cut a swath through the beach into the Bight of Eleuthera.
Management from the Water and Sewerage Corporation were also in the area on Wednesday inspecting the extent of the damage to the water mains, near and on the bridge, which were visibly destroyed in two sections – both along the bridge, and in the area near the entrance of the Queen’s Baths.
According to authorities, Engineers from the Ministry of Works in New Providence were on island on Tuesday to begin their assessments of the bridge, but because of the wave action were unable to complete full assessments. They are expected to return on Friday morning to assess the extent of the damage to the bridge and roadways.
A small sinkhole was evident on Wednesday near the famed ‘blow hole’ area, with additional cracks in the pavement fanning out from the spot. The bridge also showed signs of movement with some separation at a southern joint where the bridge connected to the roadway. Significant road damage was also seen at the entrance to the Queen’s Baths.
Member of Parliament for North Eleuthera, Mr. Rickey Mackey, during his contribution in the House of Assembly on Wednesday morning, made an appeal for quick assistance by the government, considering the vital role of the bridge in the economic health of Eleuthera, saying, “This bridge is a very important artery for the continuous life of North Eleuthera, and that is why I am so thrilled that the Minister who was there a few weeks ahead, and had agreed that something has to be done with reference to this bridge. Now the reality of that need is upon us, and going forward we will expect nothing less than our government to move forward in executing that.”
Efforts, he said, were also being made to make the way of life easier for residents under these extreme situations, mentioning talks with hotels, concerning employees; temporary ferry boat and bussing options for people traversing across and from the bridge area, as well as conversations with airlines about expanding their flights to Central Eleuthera to better service clients with final destinations on the mainland.
Officials with the Ministry of Tourism advised visitors to Eleuthera with questions about transportation between north and central Eleuthera for return flights and other travel concerns to contact their offices in Governor’s Harbour, Central Eleuthera at 332-2142, 332-2145 or 332-2148 and in Harbour Island, North Eleuthera at 333-2621 or 333-2622.
Above: The famed ‘blow hole’ at the Glass Window Bridge was very loud on Wednesday, releasing highly pressurized water every few seconds.
Below: Queen’s Baths, on Wednesday, March 7th.