Florida: State Parks Shine through Hurricane Recovery
Mitchell, Matthew, Parks & Recreation
Florida made history during last year's hurricane season, marking the first time in more than century that four storms swept through the state. Each of Florida's 158 state parks experienced a closure during at least one of the four hurricanes.
Florida Park Service volunteers and employees quickly pulled together to restore, rebuild and reopen state parks. Just two weeks after the storms passed, more than 90 percent of Florida's state parks were open to visitors.
While parks were welcoming visitors and sorting through debris, recovery efforts continued throughout the state. The Florida Park Service dispatched hundreds of employees armed with heavy duty equipment to assist with damage assessment, habitat and infrastructure restoration, cleanup operations and distribution of food, water and supplies through local and national relief agencies.
"It was truly remarkable to see staff and volunteers work together after devastating storms to quickly reopen our parks," said Florida State Parks Director Mike Bullock. "Personnel not only cleaned up parks, they made relaxation and recreation available within the anchors of our communities--state parks."
Staff stationed in Lake Wales, the bull's eye in the center of the state where Hurricanes Charley, Jeanne and Frances crossed, assisted with senior center food supplies and extensive clean-up in surrounding communities.
Florida state park crews removed massive oaks and slender pines tossed onto rooftops, administered debris drop-off locations, cleared fence lines, roads, trails and beaches, while also distributing hot meals to some of the 8. …