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As one-year anniversary of tornado approaches, cleanup continues at Red Haw State Park

  • 2/28/2023 1:29:00 PM
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CHARITON, Iowa -- Nearly one year ago, an EF 3 tornado cut an 11-mile swath of destruction through Lucas County causing extensive damage to Red Haw State Park, and claimed one life. 

The March 5 tornado, with speeds reaching nearly 140 miles per hour, destroyed a beach building, campground shower building, three shelters, three storage buildings and the campground’s electrical system. It also destroyed approximately 20 acres of trees. Total damage estimates top $500,000.

Today, work continues to clean up the park, said Chad Kelchen, central Iowa supervisor for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Parks, Forests and Preserves Bureau. 

“Most of Red Haw State Park is open to visitors, including access to the 70-acre lake and the multi-purpose trail system,” Kelchen said. “Visitors also will be able to enjoy the park’s famous redbud trees around the lake, a draw for many in the spring.” 

Professional crews will continue removing damaged trees and debris over the next several months. The campground received most of the damage and is expected to re-open in 2024. The DNR is in the planning stages for replacing the buildings and shelters that were destroyed, work that could take up to two years before completion. 

“Last year, we were fortunate to have widespread community support, with dozens of volunteers and local organizations helping to clean up debris and tree damage,” said Kelchen. “We greatly appreciate the assistance, and we understand Red Haw State Park is an important and beloved outdoor destination in the local area.”

Upcoming park cleanup activities will be planned in 2023. Volunteers can check with the park office for event details.