Less than twenty-four hours after a tornado touched down at Secretary of Natural Resources Doug Domenech was on the ground touring the damage. State Parks Director Joe Elton accompanied Secretary Domenech. Park Manager Joshua Ellington and District Manager Tim Vest were also on hand.
Local media interview state officials. From left to right, Katherine Lee Francis,
The Gazette-Virginian; Nick Long, General Manager WHLF 95.3;
Doug Domenech, Secretary of Natural Resources; Joe Elton, State Parks Director.
The F2 tornado with 120 mph winds.
We were fortunate that no one was injured in the storm. The devastation is significant. The pictures don't capture the magnitude of the debris. Park Manager Josh Ellington hopes to have a contractor in the park to begin clearing debris Monday. No definite date has been provided as to when power will be restored to the park.
All customers with reservations starting up to May 1 will be contacted for cancellation or transfer to other parks within the next day. These two weeks are traditionally the busiest time for State Parks in the spring as schools across the state are closed for spring break. There is no guarantee that the park will be reopened by May and staff are continuing to assess the damage and the time needed to clean up to make the park safe for visitors. "Even if parts of the Park are safe," Park Manager Josh Ellington commented, "Guests may be extremely limited as to what they can do in the park." Park staff have not even been able to get to the trails to view the damage but it is estimated that a significant number of trees are down and the situation is extremely hazardous.
We ask that the public be patient and that they stay away from the parks and avoid accessing any of the trails from outside of the park. It would be a shame to have individuals injured or killed after the event.
A slide show of park damage