Devil’s Backbone Park and Campground in need of relief aid to clean, repair

Illinois Flooding 2019 Cleanup

Devil's Backbone in need of FEMA aid

GRAND TOWER, Il. (KFVS) - As the floodwaters continue to recede, the cleanup efforts are underway at Devil’s Backbone Park and Campground. However, the park is running out money and park board members are fearful of the park not reopening for the rest of the 2019 events.

One board member, Donnie Davis, spent the last week volunteering around the park. He and Park Board President Will Nicholson are moving sand, laying rock and cleaning the muddy restrooms.

The park has not been open all year due to the flooding. This has caused a major loss in revenue because campers are not able to visit.

According to Davis they are renting a bulldozer to move dirt and buying rock out of Anna, Illinois to pave the roadway.

This is an additional maintenance cost. “We are at about $150,000 in lost revenue and the electrical stuff that we are going to have to replace and our septic system,” Davis said.

The campground is in need of more money and more repairs. There is no electrical and no running water.

“If FEMA doesn’t help us, it’s going to be a struggle to get started in march next year,” he said.

The park is relying on federal disaster relief aid to help in repairs.

There are more than 50,000 tons of sand sitting along the Mississippi River. In the restrooms on the campground, mold has started to grow on the roof, and there are at least two inches of sticky mud along the floor.

Davis said they are trying to fix these problems with limited resources.

“We don’t have any water. We are shoveling out the best we can, we are going to have to scrape it out where it’s dry and we are not able to sanitize it at all yet until we fix our water lines,” he said.

All of the board members have full-time jobs and simply volunteer many hours on behalf of the community. Nicholson was working the bulldozer all evening.

“I work. I get off. I come here and get on that dozer and work until 9,10 o’clock every night,” he said.

He is trying to get the park back reopened as well. “My goal was to make sure we had free homecoming and the only way to do that is volunteer - take the money and let it go towards homecoming,” Nicholson said.

The Homecoming is a free public event for less fortunate kids and families. “It’s all about seeing those smiles on those kids. It’s just our way to give back to the community,” Davis said.

The event is slated for the third weekend in September.

The park board will meet with Illinois Emergency Management and FEMA on August 12 to see if they will be able to get disaster relief help from FEMA to open back up the park.

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