One of the most dangerous places to be these days in Hannibal might be a city park. Monday night’s 100 mph winds did significant damage to the Parks & Recreation Department’s premier destination - Riverview Park.
“We have at least 100 to 200 trees that are damaged or completely need to be taken out that we can see right now,” said Andy Dorian, director of the Parks Department.
But it’s that which isn’t readily seen that poses the greatest hazard.
“There’s a lot of trees that are down on the ground. What’s scary is there are a lot of trees that are cut off at the top and are just dangling. Those are the ones that are dangerous because they could come down at any point in time,” said Dorian.
Because of the potential danger parks personnel have taken steps to keep the public out. But it’s not uncommon to find people who think the barricades don’t apply to them.
“Even with the barricades, we still ran several people off this morning who have walked in like they were going to run,” said Dorian on Wednesday. “We are begging people to stay out of the park for the good of the cleanup and their safety.”
Dorian knows it’s virtually impossible to keep everyone out of Riverview Park.
“There’s so many entrance ways in with the trails and river road, and we can’t completely block it off because we have to have it open for the treatment plant, so we’re just going to do the best we can,” he said. “We don’t want to have to start arresting people for being in the park, but if it continues to be a problem we’re going to have to do what we have to do to protect people.”
Getting Riverview Park ready for visitors again will take time.
“I would say the cleanup is going to go on for probably a couple of months to get it back to where it was originally. We definitely hope the park is not closed that long,” said Dorian. “We’re going to have to address how dangerous it is. If we don’t think it’s that dangerous, maybe we can open parts of the park and keep some parts closed. Our whole goal is to get it open as fast as possible. We want to make sure that everybody is safe.”
The Parks Department has already begun notifying people who have reserved Riverview shelters in the weeks ahead.
Page 2 of 2 - “We’re sick to have to do that, but there’s no way we can (safely) get anybody in here right now,” said Dorian.
Riverview Park was not the only park impacted by Monday’s storm.
“Every park has damage, some more than others, so be careful in every park,” said Dorian.
Also hit hard was Huckleberry Park.
“The scoreboard at Huckleberry is leaning and at the tennis courts the fence is on the verge of falling down,” said Dorian. “Huckleberry still has power lines down and there’s other damage up around the Skate Park.”
Attention is being based on where the biggest hazards exist.
“It’s going to be a while before we get to some of these other parks. We wanted to do the life-safety stuff first,” said Dorian. “A lot of trees are down and are going to stay down for a while until we can get onto them.”
While some damage occurred at the city’s Aquatic Center, it’s the lack of power at the site since Monday night that has Dorian cringing.
“We don’t know if the pool is going to open yet,” he said. “We still don’t have power and we haven’t run chemicals up there for several days now. It takes a few days to get the chemicals balanced good enough for people to swim. As soon as we can get power up there and chemicals running we’ll have a better idea if we’re going to open this weekend. Right now it’s not looking good that the pool will be open.”