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Last September, Tropical Storm Hannah blew out a breach about 125 feet long and about 50 feet deep in the wall of the C&O Canal in Maryland. It’s an impressive hole, and will likely stay that way for some time.
According to Bill Justice, chief of interpretation for C&O Canal Park, repairing the “Hannah Hole” is a matter of about $3 million. That’s considerably more than what was raised at a swanky party at Nalini and Chris Rogers’ “recently restored Marwood home overlooking the Potomac River” back in November (incidentally, the mansion with 13 bathrooms was the site of a party scene in Broadcast News, I’m guessing the one where Holly Hunter and William Hurt are supposed to be flirting at the Correspondents Dinner).
The 30 grand raised there and from other donors who’ve come forward helped repair the towpath. The cave-in is located along the path and is fenced-in about a mile in from Angler’s Inn. The C&O Park, in partnership with the National Park Service, which runs Great Falls National Park on the other side of Mather Gorge, is putting together a proposal to get the funding together. If they’re able to get it, the hole won’t be repaired for another year or two, says Justice.
Park employees inspecting the wall by bicycle the day before the storm noted the weak spot. In response, the park lowered the water level in the canal. “If we wouldn’t have done that, the damage would have been a lot worse than the 125-foot hole we have now,” says Justice.
Once it broke, earlier repairs completed in the late ’70s were exposed, he says. Today’s repairs would employ different feats of engineering. “We’ve learned it doesn’t pay to cut corners on reconstruction….It’s not a matter of if we’re going to have a major weather event along the canal, it’s a matter of when.”
NPS photo above taken by Terry Adams. About it, Justice says: “This picture was taken the day following Tropical Storm Hannah. This doesn’t look like much, until you realize the greenery in the hole was a big tree that fell into it. [The hole was] about 80 feet wide at this point.”