To all volunteers and supporters of Pocahontas State Park,
On behalf of Virginia State Parks and the staff of Pocahontas State Park please accept our thanks and gratitude for all the effort, work and support that you all showed the park on Saturday August 22, as well as other recent organized volunteer events and over so many years. Pocahontas suffered a flash flood on Saturday August 15 that caused severe damage and loss to the park, to the degree that we have not witnessed in recent years. Within hours of the event we were receiving phone calls, emails and texts asking what was needed and how the community could pitch in. To see the outpouring of support that we received was truly astounding. Our community of park advocates put out the call for support and on Saturday August 22 that call was answered with over 400 people arriving at the park to help clean storm damage, recover lost equipment, clear trails and conduct assessments of damage. Truckloads of debris were removed, dozens of life jackets and paddles were recovered. The boat rental building was located, trails were assessed for damage, friendship and camaraderie were shared and an incredible amount of work was done. We met new friends, shared sweat with long time volunteers and trail lovers, greeted folks who came to the park and saw what was going on and wanted to help and we were absolutely blown away by the love for Pocahontas. The work that was done on one single day by volunteers would have taken weeks or months for park staff to complete. It is humbling to witness the love for Pocahontas and the respect of public lands that we see on a regular basis, it is spectacular to see the power and influence of a concentrated effort such as we saw on this day.
We have a long road ahead of us still to fully assess damage, make repairs and submit claims, but we know that we are in better shape to continue these efforts with the support of all of you. I cannot adequately put into words how grateful we are, so I will simply say thank you.
With respect and gratitude,
Park Rangers of Pocahontas State Park
"Pocahontas State Park suffered a major flooding event on Saturday August 15. This unexpected and unforecast storm brought over 9 inches of rain to the park in a matter of hours. A flash flood occurred and inundated the park's boat ramp field, brought both dams to an unexperienced high water level, completely submerged two privately owned vehicles, washed away the park's boat rental buildings and all contents and several kayaks/canoes and caused still unknown total damage to the park's trail system. Our immediate goal is damage assessment and repairs to address public safety and basic access to trails. Engineers from our Design and Construction office visited the park and met with staff Monday morning and an emergency declaration was approved by the agency Director, which will allow us some latitude to begin immediate repairs to the bridge over Swift Creek lake and a road washout. VDOT has begun their assessment and repair on the road and we have a contractor on site working on the bridge. We had a conference call with our Risk Management Director this morning and have guidance going forward as regards to long term repairs and claims with the Department of Treasury. This will be a long process and we'll be dealing with damage for months. The boat rentals will not reopen this year. Mountain bike trails will likely not open for weeks for some trails, months for others. Fire roads have not been fully assessed and, while open, there will be sections that still contain hazardous conditions.
Park staff has seen tremendous support within our agency at the District, Regional and Central Office level. As a state agency we're fortunate to have resources available to us, it'll just be a long process. We've also seen absolutely incredible support from our volunteers and hiking and biking community. Within hours after the flood I was receiving texts, calls and emails asking what help we needed. I'm constantly amazed and impressed by our volunteers and this did nothing but reinforce that. We already have an organized volunteer event scheduled and we've had lots of folks out helping to assess, scout and clean up already. There will be more opportunities in the near future as we continue to assess damage and explore the best ways to make repairs, and what the best course of action is regarding risk management claims and reimbursement. Stay tuned for work days and opportunities; as we progress into the aftermath of this we'll know better where to focus efforts.
We've also been asked how to make monetary donations toward the clean up and repair effort; I don't want to speak on behalf of our partners at Friends of Pocahontas and rvaMORE but I imagine that they'd be willing to be the clearing house for such donations. We're hopeful that the majority of repairs will be covered under the Commonwealth's claim process but we're also getting into territory that none of us at the park have dealt with before, and there will surely be expenses that are not covered for whatever reason.
On behalf of park staff and VA State Parks, sincere thanks to everyone for the immediate show of support and concern. This is your park, we on staff are public servants and land managers that do our best to maintain and operate the park, but this is your park. And that's being shown on a daily basis right now by the devotion, ownership and selfless offers of help that we're seeing. Stay tuned for more updates and opportunities to get involved. Feel free to reach out to me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org or 804-661-0027. Our volunteer coordinator can be reached at email@example.com.
Nate Clark, Park Manager"