Popular Alabama Campground Remains Closed
With floodwater from the Tennessee River still covering portions of McFarland Park in Florence, Ala., city officials are unsure when the popular, city-owned campground and picnic area might reopen.
The river was expected to fall below flood stage Monday night (Dec. 14), but could briefly spill into low-lying areas of the park again today as more water is released through flood gates at Wilson Dam, according to the Florence Times Daily.
McFarland's campground and picnic area closed Dec. 9 in anticipation of minor flooding. Campers who were staying at the campground were asked to leave.
Florence city spokesman Phil Stevenson said it will take at least two days after the floodwaters drain from the park for the campground and picnic area to reopen. He said the ground will have to dry and debris from the flooding removed before the campground and picnic area reopens.
"We want to get the people back into the park as quickly as possible, but when that happens will depend on the river and the weather," he said.
City officials had hoped the camping area would reopen early this week. The river was originally forecast to fall below flood stage and remain there Friday, but larger than expected releases of water from Tennessee Valley Authority dams upstream of Florence kept it above flood stage until Monday night.
"The flooding was real tricky to forecast because TVA kept having to release more water than they had planned," said Chelly Amin, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Huntsville, Ala.
The flooding was spawned by heavy rain early last week.
"Florence got the flooding from all the rain that fell upstream throughout the Tennessee Valley last week," Amin said.
More than 5 inches of rain fell in less than 24 hours in some communities upstream of the Shoals.