Areas damaged by 2019 tornado in Joe Wheeler State Park reopens in Rogersville

Updated: May. 30, 2021 at 10:05 AM CDT
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ROGERSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Just in time for Memorial Day Weekend, prominent areas in Joe Wheeler State Park is now open!

An EF-1 tornado tore through Joe Wheeler State Park a little over a year ago and some prominent park areas were forced to close at that time.

Joe Wheeler’s Day-use center and the sand beach were closed after the tornado. Some of the damage still remains, but community members are seeing progress.

Tires hitting the pavement in the park is a special reminder for facilities operator Haley Newton.

“It’s bittersweet to be able to open the gates again,” said Newton.

“We are so thankful to finally have progress that we can show everyone. Everything has really been going at a slow pace so where we realize that things have been moving along, the public hasn’t necessarily seen that, and to now have something to show, it means a lot to us and I know it means a lot to our guests.”

While people are showing up to the park again, Newton said things will look a lot different.

“Some facilities are still closed, basketball courts are still closed, pavilion two is still closed. We did lose two bathroom buildings, a couple of small pavilions and everyone is going to notice the beach house is now gone.”

This weekend is Alex Young’s first time visiting the park.

“It’s a beautiful area and we just wanted to check it out, we heard a lot of good things,” said Young.

The work continues to bring life back to Joe Wheeler State Park.

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