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Florence closes Claytor Lake State Park

By WILLIAM PAINE

william.paine@southwesttimes.com

The Virginia Division of State Parks has decided to close down several state parks in advance of Hurricane Florence including, Claytor Lake State Park, which will be officially closed by 10p.m. Tuesday evening. “All of our campground and cabin guests have already left,” said Claytor Lake State Park Manager, Chris Doss. “So we’ll keep the park closed now until Sunday morning.”

According to Doss, the Division of State Parks closed most all state parks in the state east of and including, Claytor Lake State Park. At press time, New River Trail State Park, Hungry Mother State Park and Grayson Highlands State Park were still open but this could change depending on the weather.

“The tropical storm that just went through dumped a lot of rain, so it definitely doesn’t help to have the ground saturated,” said Doss. “The national hurricane center said we could get winds here Thursday night anywhere from 30 to 60 mile per hour. We’re preparing the staff for what the storm brings by making sure chainsaws and vehicles have enough fuel.”

The campground was nearly full with off season guests and Virginia Tech football fans but that the approach of Hurricane Florence made for an unsafe situation. “You’re in a tin box or canvas tent-I wouldn’t want to be in either one of them with the wind blowing,” said Doss.

Of primary concern were falling trees and tree branches as well as potential problems that come if there is a loss of electricity. “It’s just unsafe and when a storm comes though the park, staff has enough to do to take care of the park and the staff needs to get the park back up and operational after the storm,” said Doss.

Claytor Lake State Park will not be without some guests, however, as two swift water rescue teams from Mississippi will be staying in the Claytor Lake State Park lodges over the weekend. The Virginia Department of Emergency Management requested that these swift water rescue teams come to Virginia as part of an Emergency Management Mutual Aid Agreement. These rescue teams come up from other states in emergency situations and are sent from Virginia to those other states when the need arises. The 42 members of these swift water rescue teams are scheduled to arrive at Claytor Lake State Park Wednesday evening. They will be based in the park to handle emergency situations in Pulaski County until the need for their services arises elsewhere in the state.

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