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Flood Damage at Mammoth Cave N.P. Assessed

May 21, 2010 by   - () Leave a Comment

Houchins Ferry Campground, Mammoth Cave National Park

Flooding earlier this month washed away trails, a new bridge and parts of roads in Mammoth Cave National Park in central Kentucky, according to the Bowling Green Daily News.

“We think we are about halfway through assessing the damage,” said Vickie Carson, spokeswoman for the park. “So far it looks the damage will be several hundred thousand dollars.”

After the assessment is finished, park staff will apply to the regional office for emergency repair funds.

Carson said officials at the park don’t know when or if the repairs would be funded.

Even without funding, some things can be done now, such as getting Houchin Ferry back in operating order. A cable snapped on the ferry.

“We had to reorder cable and we are waiting for that to come in,” Carson said. “And then it will take a couple of days to install.”

An area at the nearby Houchin Ferry Campground is washed out, so the grounds remain closed.

A recently installed trail at Cedar Sink is closed.

“Part of that trail that was put in is now gone,” Carson said. “The damage is all over the park.”

Parts of Little Jordan Road, which sits in a deep hollow, were washed out, the steps at the entrance of the historic Crystal Cave were washed out and a new bridge at First Creek Lake is gone.

“It’s not where we put it and it was a substantial bridge for horses and hikers,” she said.

The fact that the bridge was moved from where it was installed does not surprise Tres Seymour, a visual information specialist who was in the park May 3 after the heavy rains on May 1-2.

Seymour hiked with a video camera to an area closed in the park and could see the valleys fill up with rising water and hear the roar of the river.

“It was raw power in motion,” he said.

At Green River Ferry, an 8-foot tall information kiosk was nowhere to be seen – it was covered by water. And in another part of the park, a bluff overlooking the river actually became the water’s edge.

“It was a very surreal experience,” he said.

Seymour filmed inside a cave as the water continued to rise.

River Hall, where visitors normally sit on benches to listen to tour guides, was flooded. Benches normally anchored to the cave floor were floating. Miles of passageways were filled with water, he said.

Seymour said he will have a couple of podcasts soon with the video he took.

Meanwhile, a crew of four men being paid with federal stimulus funds continues to work on trail restoration and remove debris left by the January 2009 ice storm.

“A lot of people have come to the park and removed wood, but we still have more than enough to keep our campgrounds supplied,” Carson said.

Stimulus money should keep the crew busy until later in the year, she said.

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