The winds from Hurricane Idalia once again destroyed the concrete balustrade at Memorial Park in the Riverside neighborhood — a fixture repaired just recently after Hurricane Irma damaged it in 2017.
Waves began battering the styled concrete balustrade just before 9 a.m., but the pounding water had cracked or washed away almost half of it by early afternoon.
Patrick Emmet, of the Memorial Park Association’s board of directors, said he was disappointed to see the damage, which he said “surprised all of us.”
“It feels like the wind was hitting it straight on. I don’t understand how it came apart the way it did,” Emmet said. “It’s a bit of a mystery to me, but Mother Nature has a tendency to surprise all of us. We are definitely concerned about it.”
It took four years to replace the balustrade along 600 feet of shoreline after Hurricane Irma. That storm, like this one, spared the winged bronze “Life” statue just a few feet behind the balustrade’s rounded concrete pillars.
Repairs after Irma had to wait for funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Now FEMA funds may be sought again for the latest repair. Emmet said he believes it should be a priority because of the damage.
“The way that it’s been damaged, it is obviously going to take a priority because it literally knocked out sections of it that make it quite dangerous to walk along,” Emmet said. “I have already been down there, and some of the others who are connected with the city know about it. So we have been discussing it all morning.”
Police blocked part off Memorial Park Drive so people would not drive by the damage. Officers warned onlookers to stay away from the edge.
Local sculptor Charles Adrian Pillars and the Olmstead Brothers designed the memorial and park to honor Floridians who died in World War I. It opened in 1924.