On Saturday, April 16, at approximately 3:10 p.m., a severe storm struck Staunton River State Park, leaving a swath of downed trees and power lines through the park. Although the Contact Ranger Station was destroyed, and there was minor damage to one of the staff residences, other park buildings appear to be intact.
The Park's contact station was the worst hit of park facilities
The park is closed temporarily, to allow time for park staff and state officials to assess the extent of the damage. It is uncertain when power will be restored, due to several poles being knocked down. All reservations for camping and cabins for the next two weeks are being canceled. We will do our best to relocate campers and cabin guests but with this being spring break that may be more difficult that usual. Park staff apologizes to individuals affected by the closure. After damage assessments are completed, an announcement will be made regarding when the park will reopen. The devastation is such that it could be months before we can open all of the park's facilities and even if the park is open, there will be many parts of the park unavailable to park guests.
While damage to the park is severe, fortunately all visitors and staff were able to avoid injury. Park Manager Josh Ellington and his staff had warned visitors throughout the park that a potentially dangerous storm was approaching, and everyone was able to find shelter in safe locations.
Ellington is grateful for the overwhelming community support immediately following the disaster. He said, “I especially want to thank Halifax County Sheriff Stanley Noblin and members of the sheriff’s department for their assistance.” In addition, Ellington wishes to thank Halifax County Emergency Services, the volunteer fire departments in Halifax and Charlotte County, Ricky Nelson with Halifax County Public Works, Virginia Department of Transportation, Virginia State Police, and Dean Conner Excavating. Also, assistance was provided by the Search and Rescue Training Team that was already in the park conducting a class.
A slideshow of pictures showing the damage
According to Ellington, there were up to 100 individuals on the ground at one time providing support. Numerous trees blocked the main road through the park, blocking access to the camping and cabin areas, and preventing visitors and staff from leaving. Thanks to the quick response from the community, the road was cleared in a few hours. Further updates will be forthcoming, as more information is known.
Editor's note: State Park Director Joe Elton is taking Secretary of Natural Resources Doug Domenech on a tour of the park damage today.
If you have a reservation during the period when the park is closed, please call 800-933-7275 to cancel ot move to another park or dates. The Reservation Center is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m..