State parks recover from Sandy, windstorms
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- All but one of West Virginia's state parks are operating normally again following two major storms in 2012 that caused damage throughout the system.
Many of the 36 state parks sustained damage when a series of severe windstorms battered the state last summer. In late October, the park system suffered another blow from superstorm Sandy, which damaged six parks and one wildlife management area.
Cathedral Park remains closed.
"All of our areas, other than Cathedral, are now open for business and back to normal,'' Brad Reed, the park system's district administrator, told the Charleston Daily Mail.
Revenues, occupancies and jet boat and tram rides are all up at Hawks Nest State Park, which took poundings from both storms, Superintendent John Bracken said.
"Even in a depressed economy right now, we're doing much better than the average person, the average business,'' he said.
Reed said the park system's cleanup costs so far total more than $1 million. The work has been done by both in-house employees and contracted workers.
The system sustained $1.3 million in direct and indirect losses from the windstorms, said Kenneth Caplinger, chief of parks and recreation for the Division of Natural Resources.
"We took a very large revenue hit, but business was just starting to pick up and get back to normal when superstorm Sandy came through,'' Caplinger said.
Sandy's estimated damage totaled more than $200,000, DNR spokesman Hoy Murphy said.
At Hawks Nest, the Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursed 75 percent of storm damage and cleanup costs, which totaled $7,200. The remaining 25 percent came from the park's operating budget, Bracken said.
"They [FEMA] came through, but the state parks budget is so slim right now, anything we can do to save money, we're trying to do,'' Bracken said.