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Clean-up effort underway at Little River State Park

By By ROBERT BLANKENSHIP
Advance Managing Editor
A clean-up effort is underway to get Little River State Park back on track after being struck by a tornado last week.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and the Alabama Forestry Commission are working together to remove fallen and leaning trees as well as replacing a vehicle and a trailer used as a home for the full-time park ranger, Kent Willis, and his family. A truck used by Willis will also be replaced as trees fell on the truck while Willis was trying to get back to his home. He sustained broken ribs and several other injuries as a result of the incident. He is currently being treated at Atmore Community Hospital.
Director of State Parks Don Cooley said it would be hard to put a monetary figure on the damage done. He said an insurance claim, the residence, vehicle and general cleaning may cost the state up to $90,000 to $100,000. He said the residence alone would cost the park $60,000 and that the cost of labor made it very hard to determine the total cost.
Since the storm hit last Monday, March 12, the state has been moving trees and grading the area. However, rain has slowed the process to a great extent.
The park has remained open to the public; however, certain parts are closed.
Cooley also said that there have been plans prior to the tornado to make other improvements to the park.
One interesting tool that the workers cleaning up the park are using is the truck that was totaled by falling trees during the tornado last week. Forestry workers have cut off the cab and are using it to drag trees and limbs out of the area.
Although the damage to the park was significant, Cooley said it was fortunate that it did not do more.