First look inside Maribel Caves Park after tornado damage

By Millaine Wells, Local 5 News

Published 04/23 2014 01:56PM

Updated 04/23 2014 06:21PM

MARIBEL, Wis. (WFRV) - While we are in the midst of severe weather awareness week, a local community is just starting to clean up the damage from a tornado last summer.

In early August 2013, a storm spawned six twisters.

One of them hit Maribel, taking with it thousands of trees.        

Now efforts are underway to re-open a popular park.

"It was pretty devastating as to how much timber loss we had on the property" says Kevin Resch, a member of the Manitowoc County Highway Department helping with the cleanup.

Before the storm Maribel Caves County park was covered in lush greenery.

Now the 75 acres, is without 75 percent of its trees.

"You could not see 50 feet away and now it is all destroyed" Resch explains.

The parks shelter and bathrooms were damaged beyond salvation.

Today, an excavator finished the demolition.

Removing the structures is step one to reopen the park that has been closed since August.

"There is a lot of pride, this is one of Manitowoc Counties heavily used parks. We get 30,000 plus using the park each year" says Adam Backus, The Park Superintendent for Manitowoc County.

Manitowoc County received $75,000 from loggers who cleared out quality hardwood leveled by the storm.

Now they are counting on the community to continue the clean up.

"We are going to now open the park to be open to the public at certain times and take some this firewood that was left behind. We are going to allow them to buy it for a very small amount" Backus explains. 

The goal is to re-open the park by June 1st.

Popular cave tours are scheduled to resume by June 15th.

"We do have some staircases and bridges that will be rebuilt this summer along with some new trail development" Backus says.

Temporary bathrooms will be installed.

A shelter will come later, after more fundraising.  

According to Backus "It is still going to look like a destruction site, but it is going to be safe"

The Manitowoc County Parks Department will post updates on its website, once dates have been set to purchase firewood and help with the clean up.

This website will also have updates on the schedule.

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