By Mannix Porterfield
Trees toppled and power lines snapped, but fortunately for West Virginia’s park system, fall foliage hit its peak a week ago and the revenue loss from Superstorm Sandy’s fury should be minimal.
“We had the June 29 windstorm, and now this, but we’ll get through it,” Parks and Recreation Chief Ken Caplinger said Thursday.
“We got lucky. We had some cabins hit at Twin Falls and a few cars here and there, but for the most part, there are no real reports of significant property damage yet.”
In the aftermath of the derecho that whipped winds in excess of 80 miles per hour, the state system lost an estimated $500,000 in income.
“The last few days in October into November is a very slow period for us, anyway,” Caplinger said.
“You’ve not got that many rooms or cabins rented, not that many campsites. We’ll probably see a few group cancellations. But the business is kind of at a low ebb this time of year. It won’t be nearly as significant as the June 29 windstorm.”
It will be a while before the state gets a handle on the revenue setback, “but it will be a fraction” of what was caused by the derecho, he said.
Babcock State Park in Fayette County was battered by 30 inches of snow that bowled over many trees, leaving roads blocked and shutting off the power.
“It will be closed for an extended period of time,” Caplinger said.
Power was off at Bluestone, which is closed for now.
Power and telephone service was returned on Thursday at Cass Scenic Railroad and there was no damage in the town, but a number of fallen trees lay across the tracks.
“The trees across the tracks are not really an issue for us at this point, because they were closed for the season anyway on train runs,” Caplinger said.
“They got something like 8 to 12 inches of snow. Once we’re able to get on the mountain and look at the rail line, I’m sure they got tons of snow out there. We’ll probably find a lot of trees that need cleared and such. We don’t really need to worry about that now, since the trains are not running.”
With telephones on the fritz, no report was available at Droop Mountain State Park in Greenbrier County.
“We mainly escaped at Greenbrier State Forest with only an inch of snow,” Caplinger said.
“The power is fine. They’re open.”
Power was restored Thursday at Hawks Nest State Park, another Fayette County facility, and telephone service also was back up at the lodges.
“Little Beaver got hammered pretty good,” Caplinger said of the Beckley-area park.
“There are a lot of trees down. There is no power. It’s closed for now.”
No report was available from Moncove in Monroe County.
Pipestem State Park escaped the brunt of the massive snowstorm as well, although 8 inches did fall.
“The power is fine and it’s fully open,” Caplinger said. “Routine business.”
Power returned Thursday morning at Twin Falls, along with telephone service, so business resumed.
Caplinger figured the rooms largely would be occupied by power crews working throughout the region to correct power outages. A back road along the golf course leading into the resort is closed but the main entrance road is open.
“This is good news for recovery crews needing housing in the area, as well as park managers accommodating guests and visitors,” Caplinger said of Hawks Nest and Twin Falls.
“The monumental task of clearing trees from some roadways and the hiking trail system continues.”
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