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Picking Up the Pieces from Irene

August 30, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

Campground owners along the East Coast continue today to get their campgrounds in shape from the weekend horrors of Hurricane Irene in hopes to salvage all or part of the upcoming Labor Day weekend, WWLP-TV, Chicopee, Mass., reported.

One campground that won’t reopen is Shawn Myrick’s Walker Island Family Campground in Chester, Mass.

“The campground has been devastated by flooding. We are closed for the season,” Myrick confirmed to Woodall’s Campground Management.

The once serene family-run campground is now a pile of rubble.

Tropical Storm Irene dumped massive amounts of rain causing a dam at the nearby Big Robin Lake to spill over, flooding several low-lying communities and wiping out the campground, WWLP-TV, Chicopee, Mass., reported.

Randy Coe, a Hadley resident who camps at Walker Island from May to October, said no one saw the flash flood coming, The Republican, Springfield, reported.

“I looked out here Saturday and it really hadn’t got that bad,” he said.

Coe was in his motorhome when the wall of water came rushing down.

Myrick saw the wall of water coming, but would only offer one word about the sight: “Dude.”

Myrick said some 48 campers, many of them annual visitors, spend the summer at Walker Island, which was been in operation for 45 years. Those on the other side of the brook still have access to Route 10, but the majority of homes have been left stranded.

“I can’t get out till the road’s fixed,” said Coe.

On Monday, downed power lines were strewed about the campground and pieces of the green shuffleboard court were lodged in the middle of a newly enlarged Walker Brook. The children’s playground was gone and only parts of the campground’s swimming pool showed above the still churning water.

“It makes me want to cry, I already have,” said Sandra Donovan, whose father built the campground 45 years ago. “My family grew up here, my sisters kids come up here every summer, my kids grew up here,” Donovan said.

It destroyed some of the campers and stranded those left behind.

The driveway to get in and out of the campground was destroyed and until it’s fixed, no campers can get in or out.

The dam that spilled over, leaving those campers stranded, also washed away roads like Sherwood Drive in Becket, destroyed others, like Route 20, and forced evacuations in Westfield for fear that the swollen Westfield River would overflow.

All of the people who were evacuated went to an emergency shelter, they have returned home.

As for the campground, they’ll rebuild a road to get the campers out, however they’re not sure if they’ll rebuild the entire campground.

Elsewhere:

PENNSYLVANIA

The man killed by a falling tree Sunday at a campground in northeast Pennsylvania died from asphyxiation, Luzerne County Coroner John Corcoran said Monday.

Corcoran identified the man as Richard Charles Shotwell, 41, of Wilkes-Barre, The Citizens Voice reported.

“It’s asphyxiation due to the tree falling on him,” Corcoran said. “He was pinned under the tree.”

Shotwell’s death was ruled accidental, Corcoran said. No autopsy is planned.

Corcoran said Shotwell was sleeping in a camper at Hidden Lake Campground when a tree crashed down on the camper due to the winds from Tropical Storm Irene.

RHODE ISLAND

Rhode Island officials say state parks, beaches and campgrounds remain closed due to Tropical Storm Irene, The Associated Press reported.

The state Department of Environmental Management says it needs more time to assess damage, evaluate public safety concerns and clean up after the storm.

There is extensive tree damage and downed limbs at Goddard Memorial, Lincoln Woods and Burlingame state parks. There is also widespread tree damage at the George Washington State Campground in Glocester and the Burlingame State Campground in Charlestown.

CONNECTICUT

In Dayville, Hide Away Cove owner Matthew Benoit said the extent of the damage was several downed trees, lots of brush and one mobile home that was destroyed by a fallen tree, the Norwich Bulletin reported.

“We got pretty lucky as far as buildings, no flooding — just no power,” Benoit said.

MARYLAND

The Assateague Island National Seashore is reopening to the public after closing for Hurricane Irene, The Washington Post reported.

The National Seashore reopened to the public at 7 a.m. today. All developed area campgrounds, with the exception of Oceanside walk-in sites and some of the group sites, will reopen at noon. Walk-in and remaining group sites will reopen when water levels recede.

The over-sand vehicle route will reopen at 9 a.m. Tuesday; some parts may stay closed.

The South Ocean Beach Day Use area and all backcountry campsites will stay closed until further notice.

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