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Contact: Pamela Barnes, 440-241-5857
Three weeks after devastating flood damage, the Midwest Region Incident Management Team and Ozark National Scenic Riverways are opening some access points along the Jacks Fork and Current Rivers and some camping areas. Park Superintendent Larry Johnson said “The Incident Management Team has been a great help to us in making order out of chaos”. It was indeed a chaotic scene during the April 29-30 torrential rain and rising flood waters. Rangers worked throughout the night rescuing residents of Van Buren from their homes and park visitors from the river. “This was a very different incident, nothing like what we have handled in the past. We are transitioning from the overwhelming back to normal flood recovery operations, except the impacts of this event are more widespread than we’ve had to deal with in the past” added Johnson. “The Incident Management Team has now departed and turned flood recovery operations over to the park. They were most helpful in getting us past the critical incident response phase of this disaster and more toward the operational phase.”
Members of the Incident Management Team helped park staff prioritize work in the areas of the park that could be opened first. Teams have been working long hours to get at least some of the river access points and camping areas open. Safety of the public and the recovery team has been the top priority. The park will not open areas until they have been deemed to be safe. “Closing areas is not in our DNA,” said Johnson.
Continued patience is appreciated as teams work to bring more facilities on line, and daily updates will occur on the park’s Facebook page. Visitors to the park should be prepared for some rough road conditions and limited amenities in some camping areas. Please be aware that the services that have been provided in the past may not be available. For example, chemical toilets will be available at Alley Mill area. Phone service is still not available in many areas of the park, so visitors should check the website and Facebook page for updates.
The historic flood affected nearly all of the park’s resources. Condition assessments are continuing, and to date approximately 84% of the park’s resources have been assessed. Of those assessed, 33 structures have been destroyed, and another 99 have been reported to have critical or serious damage. Widespread flooding is another factor in this event – the water level is not dropping as quickly as in the past, as the water literally has nowhere to go.
Areas not listed below are still closed to the public. While enjoying the open areas of the park visitors should not attempt to enter closed areas. Tree work and heavy equipment present significant safety hazards.
The following areas will be open as of May 19:
Round Spring and Pulltite. Reduced rates will be posted at campgrounds where all amenities, such as showers and flush toilets, are not on line yet.
· River Access
Upper Current - Tan Vat to Round Spring is open for floating.
Jacks Fork - Open for floating from Buck Hollow to Alley boat launch; closed from Alley boat launch to Two Rivers until safety hazards can be mitigated.
Lower Current – Open for power boating but closed to floating due to persistent higwater.
· Launch Areas
Tan Vat, Baptist, Cedar Grove, Akers, Pulltite, Round Spring, Buck Hollow, Rymers, Alley, Big Spring
The following areas were opened Saturday May 13:
· Alley Mill
Areas Open: Alley Mill parking area, grounds around Alley Mill and Storys Creek School, Alley General Store
Areas Closed: Alley Mill – due to flood damage, restrooms - due to issues with the sewage system. Chemical toilets are available. Burr Oak pavilion and picnic area are closed due to damage and debris. All hiking trails are closed due to hazardous conditions.
- Devils Well - Open for day use and picnicking. Cave Spring trail will be open for hiking, and the vault toilet will be open.
- Rocky Falls – open for day use and picnicking. The vault toilet will be open.
- Klepzig Mill – open for day use and picnicking.
- Akers Ranger Station public restrooms will be open.
As conditions change information will be posted on the park website at www.nps.gov/ozar, on the park Facebook page, and at the visitor contact stations.
The Midwest Region encompasses 61 park areas in 13 states (Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Arkansas, and North and South Dakota), and has been headquartered in Omaha since the mid-1930s.