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Diamond Island barge back up and running

People living on Diamond Island can now head to shore after a mechanic came to fix their broken barge. 

The barge allowing residents on Diamond Island in Cassopolis broke down last night, leaving hundreds stranded on the island. But some of those people were not worried about being stranded at all. 

Jack Orr, who lives on Diamond Island, spent the day totting family friends to and from Diamond Island, not something he usually does.

"Usually I just go on the barge, and it runs 99% of the time," Orr said.

The barge being out of service, meant no one was getting off the island without a boat. It is the only way on or off the island.

"Yesterday at about 7:30 p.m. I got a call from the operator that was running the barge and he said he could not keep it going," said Bill Hullinger, maintenance manager at Diamond Island.

Hullinger went to check out what was wrong and saw that the engine was the problem.

"It's up in this part of it that's where the fan would normally be, there's a shaft that sticks out that broke," Hullinger said. 

That shaft is what Hullinger said keeps a fan in the engine running, without it the engine would not start, leaving hundreds of people of the island stuck.

However, Michael Maloney, a 30-year resident of Diamond Island, made the best out of this situation.

"I've got beer, I've got coffee" Maloney said. "I’ve got sandwich meat you know chicken and dumplings at the legion tonight, we’re in pretty good shape."

Orr said they would be alright because of their community, which is full of good Samaritans. 

"We help each and if you need something and you don’t have it you go ask your next door neighbor and they’ll let you borrow it," Orr said.

Even a ride back to the mainland. Neighbors offered their boats up to help get cars off the island. 

"We took about six cars off her this morning pushing the ferry boat with our outboard motors and our boats and if we had to we could continue on like that," Hullinger said.

He said luckily they did not. After less than 24-hours, a mechanic was able to get the barge back up and running. Hullinger said it would cost $700 or more to get the engine fixed, but said there was no other way around it.

"It doesn't matter what the cost is this is our lifeline we have to have it repaired so it is what it is and we'll deal with it," Hullinger said.





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