April 27 Tornado Destroyed Guntersville Campground
Lake Guntersville State Park in northern Alabama, closed since an April 27 tornado tore through one of the state's most popular tourist attractions, will reopen Saturday (May 21) on a limited basis.
But it won't be the same resort along the Tennessee River you're accustomed to seeing, The Huntsville Times reported.
"It's going to be different," said Randy Jinks, marketing and advertising manager for the state parks. "It will always be different than what it was. It will never be the same."
The lodge and the restaurant atop Taylor Mountain will be open, as well as some of the rooms in the hotel. The lodge and hotel sustained minor roof damage. About 15 chalets will also be open, Jinks said.
The campground, nestled along the river bank amid towering pine trees, was the most devastated part of the park.
"The campground is utterly destroyed," Jinks said. "When we get all the logs and debris removed, we may have some campground sites or some sections of the campground we may get to reopen.
"There's going to be a large portion of the campground that will have to be totally renovated."
According to the National Weather Service, an EF2 tornado estimated to be a half-mile across hit the park just after 7 a.m. on April 27.
"Hundreds of trees were twisted, snapped and uprooted through the northern half of the state park," the weather service report said. "Several RV campers were damaged in the campgrounds."
Jinks said every power line in the park was blown to the ground and that phone service has still not been re-established.
"We're just thrilled to be able to get the lodge and the restaurant opened up," Jinks said. "We just hope people will come out and support the people at the lodge and the restaurant. In addition to the damage, the livelihood of a lot of our employees has been disturbed because they've been out of work."
Jinks said he was told he needed to put a positive spin on the situation.
"The view is awesome at the restaurant," he said. "The positive spin is the view of the river from the lodge is a lot more open now. There are a lot less trees there."