Hurricane Isaac left mystery inside Madisonville lighthouse - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Hurricane Isaac left mystery inside iconic Madisonville lighthouse

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A house boat, damaged in Hurricane Isaac, rests on the east bank of the Tchefuncte River south of Madisonville A house boat, damaged in Hurricane Isaac, rests on the east bank of the Tchefuncte River south of Madisonville

Madisonville, La. -- On the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, Hurricane Isaac left a puzzle inside the iconic Tchefuncte River Lighthouse -- what happened to the iron steps of the spiral staircase leading to the top?

The bottom few steps remain intact but somehow were broken loose, leaving tiny stubs near the center pole.

Lynn Haase, vice-president of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Museum that operates the lighthouse, theorizes, "Either a large log or a piling or something" smashed through the door.  "It knocked the metal door down, came in, bounced around and took out these steps."

However, the light still functions and the Tchefuncte River lighthouse survives, as it has since 1868.

"You're looking at three-foot thick walls," said museum director Don Lynch.  "So it held up real well."

The maritime museum is deciding now how to fix the staircase.

Elsewhere along the Tchefuncte, there are signs of progress.  Last week, the state finished repairs on the one-lane bridge that leads to the lakefront.  Isaac's surge knocked the old bridge "about a mile into the swamp," according to Madisonville Mayor Peter Gitz.  "Isaac took it with a tidal wave, I guess, and took it off the piers."

Gitz has ordered the public boat dock remain closed out of safety concerns until repairs are completed there, possibly within the next several weeks.

Four months after Isaac, the river is a bit of a mess, littered with the remains of eight to 12 sunken and apparently abandoned boats.  At first glance, it can be difficult to determine which wrecks are the result of Isaac and which were already there.

"We just had it cleaned up after Katrina and people abandon their boats, which they've been doing for a couple hundred years," Gitz said. "It's a graveyard for boats."

The town of Madisonville is working with FEMA to get the funds for removing the wreckage.

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