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Wapehani Tornado Damage

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Kevin M:
From today's Herald-Times:

--- Quote ---The National Weather Service confirmed Thursday it was a tornado with winds gusting as high as 110 mph that ripped through a small portion of Monroe County Wednesday night injuring at least 17 people and damaging about 30 homes.

The tornado likely touched down about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday in the area of Ind. 45 and Leonard Springs Road moving northeast toward Ind. 37, said Tara Dudzik, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

The sporadic damage in that area suggests the tornado may have touched down more than once and included several “microburst events” — the downward motion of air as opposed to a rotating tornado, Dudzik said.
--- End quote ---

Guess what lies northeast of Leonard Springs Road along Hwy 37?

That's right.  Wapehani got hit by a tornado:

The Park is effectively closed.  Wapehani Road is blocked and the parking lot is inaccessible:

The gate to the old roadbed is in here somewhere:

Here's a view of the pad/slab from the cobbles and of the beginner trail just below:

It's just crazy damage everywhere we were able to get a look at:

I have no idea when the park will be open again.  As Eric said, weeks at least.  

If you are interested in helping with the cleanup, I hope to organize a work session for National Trails Day (June 4th, next Saturday).  Let me know if you could make it.

In the meantime, please do not park on Wapehani Rd and try to hike in. We need unimpeded access to that road in order to re-open it and we'd rather not have folks wandering around while we're sawing.  Thanks.

Socialized on our Facebook page as well, here:


I have a 35hp John Deere tractor with a front end loader. I live about 10 min from Wap. Let me know if I can help. Depending on what the conditions are, I might be able to scrounge up more equipment. I have a mountain biker buddy who also has a tractor the same size. I sure I can get him to help as well. This sucks. I REALLY enjoy biking at Wap. The quicker we get it cleaned up the quicker we get back to biking.

I also know a guy who has a Cat ASV with a front mulcher. It'll chew up trees up to 8" in dia. I might be able to "sweet talk" him into letting me borrow it. Just another idea.

Kevin M:
Thanks very much for the offer of tractors and chipping!  I will pass it up the chain.  Parks & Rec has that kind of equipment, but it's tied up with work inside the city right now.  We should have Wapehani Rd opened up by the middle of next week, which will let us get into the parking lot.

Believe me when I say that I'll make every effort to get the park open as soon as humanly possible, but it really will be weeks at minimum.  Even if management signs off on letting volunteers in with heavy equipment (and honestly, I don't think it's likely), that only really helps us clear the cobbled roadbed.  What we really need is an army of sawyers...but Parks & Rec allowing volunteers to chainsaw at a hazardous site would be as unprecedented as the tornado damage itself.  If there are qualified folks with saws who step up, I will work on getting permission.

I spent Friday hiking around (where possible) and mapping work sites.  Excluding the cobbles, the pad, and a big swath of the northwest quad that is impenetrable, I've identified about fifty sites where we need to saw.  Those sites range from big limbs to single trunks to tangled clusterfraks of multiple trees hung up on each other. 

On the bright side: all of our bridges survived; the rock crib wall just off the parking lot took a direct hit and held up fine; and we should be able to mill a lot of nice hickory.  Lots of opportunities to get creative with the blowdown.

Thanks again for any and all offers of help.  Like I said, I will pass them all up the chain.  Management can always say "No," but at least they'll hear that the park's users value Wapehani enough to volunteer.  I'm still aiming for some kind of cleanup session next Saturday.  We should be able to get enough done next week to allow volunteers with hand saws, loppers, and rakes to get in and clean up the least impacted sites. 


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