The clean up cavalry arrived Tuesday but a good portion of Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois Beach State Park remained closed to public activities five days after a strong storm swept down the Lake Michigan shoreline.
"There are trees crisscrossed all over," Greg Behm, superintendent of one of Illinois' most visited state parks said Tuesday afternoon. "We're making progress but we have a ways to go."
An undetermined number of trees were snapped as an intense storm Thursday night blew through the sprawling state park, situated along Lake Michigan in the far northeast corner of the state.
What is known as the South Unit, which is accessed at Wadsworth and Sheridan roads, remained closed Tuesday and likely will be for the foreseeable future. The area includes a beach, day use facilities, campground and biking and hiking trails.
"We had a lot of reservations and we had to call people and tell them," Behm said.
Realizing they needed help with the huge task of clearing storm damage, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources contacted the Lake County Forest Preserve District. Employees from other state parks, as well as a private contractor, were assisting.
The forest preserve district's forestry and natural resources crews with a lift truck, two chippers and a tractor worked all day Tuesday and planned to put in a full day Wednesday before reassessing the situation.
"We brought the whole arsenal," said Mike Tully, director of operations and public safety for the forest district. "They're cutting trees, cutting limbs and chipping them, making it safe."
Tully said felled trees all were pointed in the same direction, knocked down by high winds in a straight line.
Activities also were affected at the North Unit, which is accessed via 17th Street near Zion. Facilities there, including the North Point Marina, which sustained extensive damage to docks, administrative offices and storage buildings, reopened July 1.
The Illinois Beach Resort and Conference Center and campground in the north portion also were damaged.
"They're trying to get some rooms open," Behm said. The pool will be closed, however.
The beach and picnic areas in the north section were available Tuesday. Parking remained limited and the trail systems in both sections remained closed Tuesday.
Visit www.dnr.illinois.gov or call (847) 662-4811.