Flood in region puts crimp in plans for holiday camping

Saturday, May 25, 2002

DEXTER, Mo. -- Some people may have to change their plans this Memorial Day weekend because of the recent flooding in the area.

Typically the busiest weekend for Lake Wappapello, Memorial Day will bring fewer visitors to the camping areas than usual because many of the campgrounds are under water.

"We only have two campgrounds that will be open," park ranger Doug Nichols said. "There's Redman Creek, which has about 73 sites, and Peoples Creek Upper Campground with about 19 sites. All of the other sites are under water."

Nichols said the two sites are open only because they sit atop ridges away from the water.

"But everything else is just submerged," he said. "Our Greenville campground, which has about 111 sites is completely closed. We have 26 boat ramps, and all of them are closed."

Despite the near inevitability of a quiet Memorial Day weekend, some area residents are waiting to see what weather may come along within the next few days.

"When the lake is at its second highest level ever some things are bound to change," Nichols said. "We have a little more room now with the lake level and the ground conditions are better and drier in some spots."

He said it was difficult to predict what might happen with the weather.

"If the rain comes fast there will be more run-off than if it comes in slow," Nichols said, adding that the lake has dropped nearly half a foot each day without rain.

At least June 5

Nichols said that he doesn't expect to have any more areas available before June 5, at the earliest.

Still, he said, park officials haven't had a chance to do any damage assessment, so until that's done, there's no telling what the situation with different areas will be like.

He said that in the Greenville area there are some parts that have a little bit of a current going through "but we don't know how that's affected things there."

Quite a few people have started canceling their campground reservations because of the weather difficulties, he said, but those reservations were being filled quickly because of the recent favorable weather.

"Activities will certainly be much more limited this year," Nichols said. "And it's all area lakes and rivers that have been affected like we have. It's pretty safe to say that we won't be seeing many boats out this weekend."

Nichols said that people need to contact the marinas to see if there are areas for them to put their boats in.

Nichols said there is some camping available at the Lake Wappapello State Park Campground and that an update on available sites may be obtained by calling (573) 297-3232.

According to a press release from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the overflow area below the dam will not be opened because of high water and wet ground conditions.

Open day-use facilities include the Redman Creek picnic area, Spillway picnic area, Eagle Point picnic area, Visitor Center and Lake Wappapello State Park.

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