Cleanup begins at flooded Trail of Tears State Park campsite

Crews clean Trail of Tears

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - As Mississippi River flooding slows down, clean up efforts are speeding up.

For the first time in months, the staff at Trail of Tears State Park are working to reopen their most popular campsite along the riverfront.

Staff at the state park said they’ve lost 19 weeks of camping and counting at their Mississippi River campground.

Now they’re working fast to get it back open because visitors are calling every day to make reservations.

“We’ve been watching the river drop, and we thought it was low enough now," Camper Doug Blumenthal said. "It is but there is so much damage it’s going to take two more weeks they said.”

Blumenthal and his partner Karen Boland want to test out their new camper at Trail of Tears State Park, but the electronic campsite along the Mississippi River is still closed and has been since March 16.

Assistant Park Superintendent Danny Counts said flooding has disrupted their recreation opportunities for more than five months.

“Visitation to the park, camping and attendance have probably decreased by 50 percent compared to last year,” Counts said.

The only road leading to campsite closes at 35 feet on the flood gauge, and Counts said the Mississippi crested at more than 10 feet above that level.

"We had approximately a half-mile of road covered in silt, anywhere from an inch to eight inches of silt, so we had to remove it."

On Wednesday, July 24, park staff started cutting down grass in the campground which grew four feet high in some spots, and Counts said they have other things on their to-do list.

“We still need to go in and get our shower house ready," he said. "We go in an inspect our utilities, make sure everything is in proper working order before we can open the campground.”

Blumenthal and Boland still plan to put their name of the waiting list so they can enjoy the riverfront campsite as soon as possible.

“We’ve been wanting to use that campsite for a long time. We’re jumping at the chance,” Blumenthal said.

“And he enjoyed this park as a kid when he was a kid too," Boland chimed in. "So it’s kind of like him coming home, and to see how the park has grown is a big thing.”

At this point, the state park has canceled reservations at the riverfront campsite through Thursday, Aug. 8.

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