HIGH WATER AT KERR LAKE DOES MORE THAN CANCEL PARK PLANS – LAUNCHES MASSIVE CLEANUP OPERATIONS
High Water of Kerr Lake Over Memorial Day Weekend Is Just the Beginning – After Campers – The Big Sweep Begins
The people who have been visiting Kerr Lake over the long Memorial Day weekend and who did not have their plans canceled or dampened by a daunting 308.68-foot Kerr Lake flooded level, that’s over eight and a half feet over full pool, are trickling out of the campgrounds, boat ramps and day-use areas.
Forecasts say that the people will be replaced instead, with more rain. The lake is much lower now in preparation for this week’s rains, 305.25 feet today at noon. That’s not much consolation to the 1000’s who were turned away from many public parks on the lake with low-lying public areas beginning late last week. Kerr Lake Park Watch tried to encourage the US Army Corps of Engineers to release water from Kerr earlier and with more release volume, but the releases came too late to save a lot of the camping extended weekend for park users.
Now comes the cleanup and that’s no small task. People who use Virginia, North Carolina or US Army Corps of Engineers’ parks during high water and those who had to cancel plans because of high water, generally don’t think about the aftermath.
Believe us when we say that the maintenance crews all around Kerr Lake were scurrying this morning before 8:00 AM. First, there’s a general washup of trash, leaves and all kinds of debris left on the various flood rings as the water level recedes. That’s one job and a large one. Secondly, large limbs and trees are resting where they’re not supposed to be, on roads, in campsites, in picnic areas, even on picnic tables.
We saw several different crews mobilized in several different parks with Bobcats, backhoes, tractors, plus shovels and rakes, all cleaning up from Kerr’s high-water weekend. Thirdly, electrical boxes, power and water must be restored to the specific areas that were under water, which is considerable at any level over 306 feet above sea level.
Meanwhile, park office phones have subsided with floods of calls about cancellations. We asked approximately 20 campers who had to be moved in various parks if Reserve America notified them and they responded, all of them with a “no,” that they were notified by their respective park service. That process probably continues as canceled Memorial Day weekend park visitors will either get refunds or their camping times rescheduled.
For those of us who come to Kerr Lake for whatever recreational purpose, we see our value-added coming from the maintenance people, whom we regard as contributing the most to the camping experience. With Kerr Lake and her floods, storms, winds and whatever else she can hurl at park workers and the public, we think all maintenance and park care-takers should take a bow. The next time you are in a Kerr Lake park, you should stop one and thank them.