Storm damages sea wall in Port

The Milwaukee Journal, Wisconsin
Tuesday, March 5, 1985
By Amy Rabideau Silvers

1985 March 05: Fierce southeast winds created high waves Monday that opened this 40 foot gap in the sea wall adjacent to Smith Brothers Fish Shanty Restaurant in Port Washington. Photo by Vernon Biever.
(above) 1985 March 05: Fierce southeast winds created high waves Monday that opened this 40 foot gap in the sea wall adjacent to Smith Brothers Fish Shanty Restaurant in Port Washington. Photo by Vernon Biever.

Port Washington The storm that socked Wisconsin Sunday night and ealy Monday struck a particularly savage blow to a portion of the sea wall here owned by Smith Brothers Fish Shanty Restaurant.

Wind-driven lake water undermined and broke open a section of about 40 feet of the firm's sea wall and caused portions of the parking lot as far as 50 feet in from the wall to collapse, said Lincoln Smith, president of the company.

About one-third of the lot was destroyed and another third is barricaded off as a precautionary measure, he said. The lot also serves the Harborside Motor Inn, which is owned by Smith Brothers.

Smith said a marine construction firm was expected to assess the damage Tuesday. Neither a damage estimate nor a timetable for reconstruction is known yet, he said.

"It's going to be costly," Smith said. "There's no doubt about that ... I'd say we'd probably have to wait until spring and the threat of storms is over."

The damage probably began occurring about 3 a.m. Monday and did not abate until about noon, Smith said. It was caused by the storm's fierce southeast winds the wind direction the harbor is most vulnerable to which created high waves.

The storm action undermined the vertical steel sheeting supporting the sea wall.

The situation also could have been aggravated by the high level of Lake Michigan, he said.

"I would say this is the worst storm damage of its kind in the history of the business," said Smith, 59. "It's the worst I've ever heard about and I've been in the business all my life." Smith Brothers was founded in 1848.

"It was a rude awakening in the morning, but it's going to be business as usual as much as we possibly can," Smith said.