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St. George Island State Park opens for first time since Hurricane Michael

(WJHG)
Published: Feb. 28, 2019 at 5:57 PM CST
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It's been almost five months since Hurricane Michael made landfall and Thursday was the first day that the St. George Island State Park has been reopened.

A dozen or two people, along with state park officials, were waiting for the gates the open at around 10 o'clock Thursday morning. But a lot of work had to be done to reopen it.

Once the storm passed they found three to five feet of sand on the roads. Officials couldn't even get into the park.

"It was literally taking a back-hoe and scoop by scoop taking the sand back off the roads and putting those back," said Eric Draper, the director of Florida State Parks.

The ranger station was also damaged, along with some of the pavilions. And the campground sustained damaged to the water and electrical systems.

Draper says the park sustained $5 million in damage. Two million dollars has already been already spent to get the park open.

"We are going to bring this park back better than it ever was. That's our commitment," said Draper.

Jim Cote and Donna Hovat are Canadians that have been coming to the park since the late 90s. They were worried about the storm, but are happy to see the park back open.

"We're here for the month. We had no idea it would finally be open before we left, so we are so thrilled to be able to be here today," said Hovat.

Draper says the park normally brings in 1.5 million visitors a year, so the sooner things are back to normal at the park, the sooner it can benefit the local economy.