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Water Inundates Bowling Green, Ky., Campground

May 6, 2010 by   - () Leave a Comment

A worker tries to move water at the flooded Beech Bend Family Campground near Bowling Green, Ky. Photo courtesy of the Bowling Green Daily News.

On a normal Tuesday evening, cars would be zooming around the racetrack at Beech Bend Raceway Park in Bowling Green, Ky.

Instead, nearly half the park, including the racetrack and the nearby Beech Bend Family Campground, sat under about 38 feet of water as workers pushed mud off the banks and sprayed the bleachers, which had been covered by water, according to the Bowling Green Daily News.

Beech Bend is one victim of this past weekend’s torrential rainfall, which flooded roads, homes and businesses across the region.

Beech Bend owner Dallas Jones is trying to calculate the damage as he waits for the water to recede. The park sits near Barren River on 378 acres of land. On Tuesday, about 200 acres were swallowed by water. Water peaked at the park at more than 43 feet and, by Tuesday afternoon, it had decreased by about 5 feet.

“Never before has Beech Bend seen anything like this,” he said. “It’s just unreal how much garbage, how much trash, how many logs” were carried in by floodwater.

Officials have tentatively canceled all races through May 15, which will cause an estimated $1 million revenue loss, Jones said.

The 30th annual Buick GS Nationals, which attracts several hundred participants, was scheduled for next weekend, but has been postponed to October.

“I’m usually up here every Tuesday night,” said Brandon Dalton, a racer and a park employee. “It’s just something that happens. Dallas has no control over it. Nobody does.”

The amusement park was scheduled to open this past weekend, but the opening was postponed due to the rain. Officials will try to open rides Friday, but that depends on how swiftly the water drains and whether electricity and other repairs can be made on time. About 15 transformer boxes and 25 light poles were damaged in the storm, Jones said.

Beech Bend Family Campground before the flood.

The park also is in the midst of a water park expansion, which might be delayed. The $5 million expansion includes water slides, a lazy river and other features on about three acres of land.

While minimal damage was done to the project, some materials were covered in water and some parts might have been carried away in floodwaters, Jones said.

“We’re not too sure if we lost anything or not,” he said.

While the park’s amusement rides were unscathed, the racetrack and 230-site campground are underwater. Treetops and light poles peeked from beneath the water. Before it began to recede, the water completely covered some buildings and the roofs were barely visible. At the racetrack, which sits on 105 acres, scoreboards grazed the top of the water.

At the park’s entrance, about 25 recreational vehicles sit on the blacktop after campers were forced to leave the campsite for higher ground. The campground’s bathhouse was floating near the racetrack Tuesday and the picnic tables were “washed down to Rochester,” Jones said.

The majority of this weekend’s campers are summer workers — people who stay at the campground all summer and work at the park. In the absence of electricity and sewer, campers were using generators and septic tank pumps Tuesday.

John and Pat Shutter, of Silsbee, Texas, have worked at different campgrounds for 14 years, and it’s their first time at Beech Bend. At 4:30 a.m. Sunday, a worker banged on their trailer door, ordering them to evacuate the campground.

“It was dark and pouring, pouring, flooding the rain,” Pat Shutter said. “We’re lucky to be here because it covered our campsite.”

Other park employees were working to keep the water from further damaging the park. Chris Callaghan was pushing mud off the pavement, preventing it from drying and becoming more difficult to clean.

“We’ll be here pretty much most of the night,” he said, adding that other than pushing mud and spraying off materials, workers must wait for the water to recede. “That’s about it. That’s the only thing you can do.”

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