LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. — Storm surveyors determined an EF-1 tornado destroyed much of the campgrounds at Joe Wheeler State Park on Monday and officials say the damage is heartbreaking.
"That takes a lot of wind." That was Brian Carcione's reaction while surveying tornado damage in Joe Wheeler State Park Thursday morning. Carcione works for the National Weather Service in Huntsville.
The NWS says thousands of trees were uprooted when an EF-1 tornado rampaged through the park.
"This is obviously very intense, very widespread damage," said Carcione. "It's tough to compare one tornado to another because each tornado is different. Each tornado damages different things."
Carcione says he's worked for the National Weather Service for more than 15 years and in that time, he says only once before has he seen so many trees damaged all at once.
Staff at Joe Wheeler have been working to clear roads around the campground and picnic areas to make it safer for assessing the damage. Park superintendent Chad Davis says no volunteers are currently needed to help with the recovery.
"The damage is so extensive and widespread, that it's going to take a larger scale operation to remove everything," said Davis
One thing is certain, the park will never look the same and storm scars are sure to remain.
Park officials say that much of Joe Wheeler State Park has reopened except for the campground and picnic areas—and guests who had reservations will be receiving refunds.