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Tornadoes and Thunder Storms Heavily Damage Three Oklahoma State Parks
By Oklahoma Tourism Staff
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Public Information Officer
Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department
120 N. Robinson, Suite 600
Oklahoma City, OK 73102
There are no injuries being reported after tornadoes and thunder storms heavily damaged three Oklahoma State Parks Monday.
The parks that received the most damage are Lake Thunderbird State Park near Norman, Tenkiller State Park near Gore and Greenleaf State Park near Braggs.
Park rangers and personnel were able to warn campers and evacuate visitors before the weather intensified, enabling everyone to take shelter. However, many privately-owned recreational vehicles, cars and boats were flipped or damaged by falling trees and debris.
Lt. Governor Jari Askins and Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Executive Director Hardy Watkins toured damaged areas with Thunderbird park staff earlier today to help assess the situation and direct clean up and repair efforts.
“I’m grateful that park personnel moved people to places of safety,” Lt. Governor Askins, Chairman of the Oklahoma Tourism Commission said. “Other state agencies are now working in partnership with parks staff to secure remaining facilities and clean up debris.”
No official damage estimates are available yet from the storm.
Lake Thunderbird State Park is reporting the most severe damage. All nine access points to the lake have been closed and Oklahoma Lake Patrol crews have been dispatched to patrol the water to prevent people from going on the lake that is littered with debris.
Several areas at the park will be closed indefinitely. The Little River Marina, camping facilities, comfort stations and lake huts at the Little Axe Campground and Fisherman’s Point were heavily damaged or destroyed.
The Clear Bay area and access to the South Dam at Lake Thunderbird are closed until power and water can be restored. All facilities on the north side of the lake will be closed until at least May 17 so work crews can finish damage assessments and clean up debris.
Damage assessment is ongoing at Tenkiller and Greenleaf State Parks. Staff members are being reassigned from other areas to assist with those efforts.
“Those northeast parks have sustained substantial damage,” said Director Watkins. “The Pine Cove Marina has extensive damage and we’re seeing structural damage to several buildings and cabins, lots of trees down and power problems. Some of these facilities will be closed for quite some time.”
Lake Thunderbird State Park is one of the most heavily used in the park system. Nearly 789,500 people visited the park in the last 12 months. Tenkiller also is heavily used, with 482,200 guests and Greenleaf with 244,000 visitors in the same time period.