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Campgrounds at Joe Wheeler State Park still closed to public due to damage

The tornadoes from December 16th forced the park to close down portions of the park. Now the Alabama State Parks Foundation is stepping in to help.

Posted: Dec 27, 2019 4:40 PM
Updated: Dec 27, 2019 7:04 PM

Nearly two weeks since a tornado ripped through Joe Wheeler State Park and debris is still not fully cleared.

Now the Alabama State Parks Foundation is stepping up to help raise funds for the cleanup process.

The tornado in this part of Lauderdale County had wind speeds of 115 miles per hour.

While the campgrounds are closed indefinitely, crews work tirelessly to clear roads for other areas such as the marina, golf course and lodges to open.

We spoke with people in the park working to get the park fully operational once again.

The campground and day use area here at Joe Wheeler State Park is still closed.

It'll remained closed because crews here told us there are still several trees down and many buildings with a lot of damage.

We spoke with a few people who told us it's still unbelievable to think about.

"I could hear the storms. They were saying 115 mile an hour winds from town creek coming up this way. I didn't experience it but I heard it my whole ride home," said Casey Neill.

Casey Neill told us he he'll never forget the horrifying noises of wind and snapping trees that day.

Crews at the park told us on December 16th the tornado damaged 15 buildings and knocked over thousands of trees, making the area unsafe for days and causing them to shut down the campground area.

"The damage we had with the high winds and stuff it's kind of devastating but in the long run it'll be worth it," said Steve Hamilton.

Hamilton went out fishing Friday morning, and told us he saw a lot of debris.

Some of that debris came from the tornado and some from the increased amount of rain we've gotten over the last week.

Though crews are working tirelessly to re-open the park, the Alabama State Parks Foundation is now helping to raise funds for the reconstruction process.

A representative told us their mission is to make parks a safe place for people

"I think it's a big point that the state of Alabama to step up and be able to have this park clean again," said Neill.

We do not know exactly how much money has already been raised but we have reached out to the Alabama State Parks Foundation to see exactly where we are.

To donate online or to send donations via mail, click here.

A few people told us they have already donated, and they'll continue to do so to help clean up their park.

Crews at the park told us the damage is still too severe to let the public in...but once reopened, they're hoping for an even better lakefront experience.

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