During my tour of CCC cabins, some barely missing cabins and some that had been completely blocking the road before sawyers removed them.
Entrance to park is closed off to the public
CCC Cabin with downed trees all around it
CCC cabin with tree on it
I could not get over the massive amount of damage. There were so many trees that had been completely up rooted. Other trees had been snapped like match sticks, and still others that had been twisted off. Where does all the wildlife go that used the trees for shelter?
Main road into the park
As I drove down the road to the beach I realized that the sun was shining through places that had always been blocked by trees. More trees down.
Massive loss of shade trees at beach parking area
As a headed toward the beach I held my breath. I remembered the devastation that Isabel had caused to the waterfront and the picnic area. The boathouse had been completed taken away, and its contents scattered along the shore. Buildings had been flooded and filled with sand and muck from the Potomac River. My office was located in the beach area. I remember wading through the slit, looking around my little office then tears started flowing at the site.
To my relief Irene’s wrath on the waterfront was not as bad as I feared. There was still quite a bit of wind damage but no major water damage. There was however, an old metal outbuilding in the parking area that came from I know not where!
Mysterious metal building that just appeared after the storm!
Growing up in “hurricane alley” on the Cape Fear, I am an “old hand” at dealing with storms that blow up the coast! But there is something I came to realize during my experiences with natural disasters at the Virginia State Parks. The staff, guests and community really love the parks. The State Parks are not just a place, but for many of us it’s a living thing that pulls at our heart strings. Memories are made, futures are started and lives are lived in our beautiful parks. We are upset to see the historic cabins and buildings suffer damage but it goes beyond that. Something I am not sure I can put into words. Maybe Ken Benson, the Park Manger at Westmoreland said it best, “we are in mourning.” For me, it’s almost like I have lost a good friend.
Cabin #24 on the cliffs
Trees completely uprooted are a common site
The positive outcome about the storm in the parks is no one was hurt. For the safety of guests, the parks were evacuated long before the storm hit Virginia. I was happy to hear Northern Neck, faired OK. Lots of beautiful trees down but no where near the destruction at Westmoreland. Belle Isle is open and offering hot showers, potable water and use of the dump station to residents in the community that do not have power. Park Manager Tim Shrader suggested residents with small children may want to bring them out to the play ground to burn off energy! Nina Cox, Park Manager at Caledon said the park is open. There isn’t any power in the visitor center, some of the trails are open along with the playground and picnic shelter. There are trails still closed but the staff is busy clearing them as fast as they can.
Trees down on Cabin #11
I was also glad to hear our neighbors atStratford Hall.I haven’t been able to catch anyone there yet. I am sure their power is still out too.
Entrance to cabin area
Westmoreland State Park will be closed until the trees are cleared, the power is back on and the park is deemed safe. We ask all of our faithful “park goers’ to be patient. Teams of crews from other state parks are helping to clean up but it’s going to take a while.
Park Manager Ken Benson surveys damage to water tower
The pictures tell the story but they cannot convey the extent of the impact on the park, the staff and the people that had plans to be at Westmoreland.