Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tornado damage repaired ... after 2 years of work

It's taken two years and a lot of hard work, but officials at Great Smoky Mountains National Park have finally finished repairs on two trails damaged by a powerful tornado that ripped through the northwest part of the park.

If you think the really strong tornadoes -- EF-4 and EF-5 -- don't hit the Carolinas, think again. And if you've heard the old tale about tornadoes not hitting mountainous areas, read on.

It was an EF-4, the second-strongest category of tornado, that hit the park April 27, 2011.

It was part of the same system of twisters that created a path of death and destruction in places like Tuscaloosa, Ala. There were no deaths when the storm hit the Great Smoky Mountains park, straddling the North Carolina-Tennessee border, but the twister downed more than 4,500 trees and closed 50 miles of trails.

This week, park officials announced they've finally reopened the Beard Cane and Hatcher Mountain trails. The tornado created two problems for work crews. The first was obvious -- clearing away the thousands of trees that were blown down. But the other job involved repairing collateral damage caused by the twister.

For example, some of the large trees were uprooted, and they caused portions of paths to slid down mountain sides.  Work crews had to rebuild parts of some paths.

"This was some of the most challenging work I have ever faced," said Tobias Miller, supervisor of the Smokies Trail Crew.

In some cases, crews had to rebuild retaining walls on the side of the trails. Workers from parks across the United States were called in to help.

One area will never recover, park officials say. They report that damage at Backcountry Campsite 11 was too significant for repairs, and it will not be reopened.

This is damage at the Beard Cane Trail
in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

6 comments:

Jay Dee Shaw said...

'Tis a slow news month weather-wise.

With no "unseasonably warm" days to trumpet, or blizzards to scare people with, it is onto reviving tornado damage news from two years ago.

Jack said...

Pretty cool that you did this Steve. We always say, "I wonder what happened to this or that". Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Yes, thanks for relieving those of us who have wondered about the trees in that photo for the past two years. Thanks Steve!

Do you have any more photos of other downed trees in that area?

Bob said...

Very interesting! I never really thought much about the work that goes into maintaining and repairing those parks.

Anonymous said...

How do they fix them? Do they push them back up?

Jay Dee Shaw said...

What does Brad Panic have to say about this?