July 2021 Storm Updates
Closures at 2 Corps campgrounds extended by one week, cleanup progressing well, lake level still rising slightly
Good Wednesday morning from Mark Twain Lake! There have been several developments since our last report on Monday, so here’s a quick (but still long, sorry) roundup of what’s happening.
Today, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that the closure of the Ray Behrens and Frank Russell campgrounds has been extended through Sunday, July 25 to allow additional time to clear downed trees and repair any damage incurred from the July 9 wind storm. Considerable progress has been made as the Corps team works to get areas safe and operational.
Currently, ADVANCE FUTURE reservations at Mark Twain Lake’s three Corps campgrounds, Ray Behrens, Frank Russell and Indian Creek, have been suspended through September 13.
Indian Creek campground is still open and all existing reservations there will be honored unless the primary occupant was contacted directly via telephone by a member of the Mark Twain Lake staff. Indian Creek reservation holders that received a system generated email from Recreation.gov notifying them that the area is closed can disregard the instructions.
The Corps will be providing the campers set to arrive from Sunday, July 19 – Sunday July 25 in the Ray Behrens and Frank Russell Campgrounds with the option of a free standard electric site at the Indian Creek Campground. These reservations will be accommodated on a first come-first serve basis because not have enough campsites are available.
Meanwhile, storm cleanup in hardest hit Perry and the surrounding areas has progressed at an astonishing pace. Power has been restored everywhere, although internet may still be somewhat spotty in a few locations.
The level of Mark Twain Lake is still rising slightly, at a rate of 3-6″ per day, but the Corps has all 4 floodgates open and is dumping quite a bit of water. The lake level as of 10 a.m. today is 627.63. All 3 beaches at the lake are currently closed, as well as a number of small boat ramps. High water ramps at Robert Allen, Stoutsville, Indian Creek and Spalding allow easy boater access. Courtesy docks are available. Some other major ramps are available, but may involve launching out of the lot and no courtesy docks are in place. As of this morning, South Fork Rec Area is still closed as crews dismantle the barge and prepare the area for visitors. Boaters should be extra cautious of debris.
So that’s what we know, here’s what we think going forward:
• The Ray Behrens and Frank Russell Campgrounds still need extensive work before they can be re-opened, including hazardous tree/limb removal; lift station and electric pedestal checks once electricity is fully restored; building inspections; roadway/campsite pad damage inspection; and playground Inspections. All of that takes time, but crews are working 12-hour days to clear the way to allow the opening of at least some loops of the campground as soon as possible. We’ll keep you posted.
• Depending on how work progresses, we believe other recreation areas could be reopened soon. Once cleared for visitors, you can probably expect the M.W. Boudreaux Visitor Center and the Warren G. See South Spillway Rec Area and Dave Berti Shooting Range to be available for at least limited access.
• Blackjack Marina is currently closed and work is continuing to get it back up and running. Yesterday they posted this: “I think I can say with great certainty that all boat rental reservations and nightly slip reservations are going to be cancelled through the end of July. As soon as we get electric, internet, credit cards, gas pumps, sewer and the rest, we will be able to better evaluate. When we are able we will contact boat and nightly slip renters for their refunds.”
• The lake’s other on-water marina, Indian Creek Marina, is open and fully operational.
In summary, Mark Twain Lake is already rapidly heading toward normal. The lake is high, but there is still access for boaters and fishermen. With the exception of Blackjack Marina, all businesses are open. Two of the Corps campgrounds are currently closed, but Indian Creek campground is open, Mark Twain State Park off of Highway 107 has limited sites available and there are sites available at some private campgrounds. In addition, numerous resorts and motels in the lake area have lodging for your stay, and all other services are available as before. Come see us!
For a listing of lodging and services available in the Mark Twain Lake Region, be sure to go to our website at www.ExploreMarkTwainLake.com
7/12/21 11:04 AM –
Good Monday morning here from Mark Twain Lake! It’s been an interesting past couple of days, so let’s try to get caught up on what we know and what it means for all of you who live or recreate here. We apologize for the length of this post, but there is a lot of ground to cover this morning, so be sure to read through to the end for all the updates.
Friday night, a powerful storm swept through the Mark Twain Lake area. The National Weather Service said straight line winds from the north/northeast resulted in a damage path 10 miles wide through western Ralls County and eastern Monroe County, extending from Rensselaer through Perry. Maximum wind speeds of 60-80 mph were estimated in most locations, with isolated areas around Perry near 90 mph.
Electricity was disrupted as power lines were downed and poles broken, trees were uprooted and broken, a number of structures suffered damage and several large camping trailers were overturned. However, there were no reports of any injuries from the storm.
Among the hardest hit was Perry, where most yards had an uprooted tree or large limbs down. As you read this, power has been restored to many parts of Perry and crews are working to get everyone back online. In addition, thanks to utility crews, volunteers and residents, the town has made great progress in clearing the debris from downed trees.
As far as businesses, Blackjack Marina suffered the most damage, with reported estimates ranging upwards of $1 million. They currently are closed as they assess the damage and continue the process of removing boats and repairing docks. A number of other businesses suffered minor or substantial damage, including Dry Dock near Paris, Hobbie Hut and several downtown buildings in Perry, and Timber Ridge, Hitching Post and Jellystone Park on Route J.
Among Corps of Engineers facilitities, nearly all recreation areas suffered downed trees and limbs, resulting in the closure of many areas until crews can clear the debris and make them safe for visitors. Among those known closed as of today were the Ray Behrens and Frank Russell campgrounds, M.W. Boudreaux Visitor Center complex, Bluffview Recreation Area, the John C. “Jack” Briscoe Group Camp and the archery range in the Frank Russell area.
Corps rangers have been working 12 hour shifts since the storm hit getting roads opened so campers can leave (both Frank Russell and Ray Behrens are now empty) and are removing damaged, dangerous trees. Two extra crews are scheduled to come in from sister lakes, Alton and Shelbyville, to work with them all week. Power to the area should be restored this week.
The Ray Behrens and Frank Russell Campgrounds will be closed July 11 through July 18, as a minimum timeframe. Additional delays in openings are expected past this date. Campers with reservations at the two campgrounds during this period should have received an email from www.Recreation.gov notifying them that their reservations have been cancelled and they will receive a full refund.
In addition, the South Fork Recreation Area will be closed to public use beginning July 13. The area will be closed for approximately four days to accommodate public safety. The boat ramp will be utilized as a staging area to demobilize work barge units used for the erosion protection project, that occurred in proximity to the South Fork Recreation Area. When demobilization is completed and the boat ramp is no longer needed to stage equipment, the area will re-open for public use.
Meanwhile, due to the heavy rains from Friday’s storm, the level of Mark Twain Lake has come up about 3 feet since Saturday morning. The lake level as of 10 a.m. Monday is 626.92 and rising at a rate of about a foot a day. The Corps is releasing water and if the area receives no further rainfall, it’s believed the lake will top out near 630. Many smaller ramps and all 3 beaches are currently closed. However, boaters can still access the lake by way of high water ramps at Stoutsville Rec Area, Spalding Rec Area, Indian Creek Rec Area, Robert Allen Rec Area.
So here’s the good news. Despite the wind damage, basically ALL Mark Twain Lake area businesses (with the exception of Blackjack Marina) are open. Indian Creek Marina suffered some very minor damage, but is fully operational. The public campgrounds at Indian Creek Rec Area and Mark Twain State Park are open. With the exception of a few county gravel roads, the high water doesn’t affect any roadways.
So the bottom line is, despite anything you might hear, Mark Twain Lake is not closed or inaccessible. There may be a few less recreation areas open, but it’s basically business as usual and we are still welcoming visitors. Come see us!!
7/11/21 12:52 PM –
Ray Behrens and Frank Russell Campgrounds to be closed July 11-18 for storm cleanup.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has announced that due to the storms that took place at Mark Twain Lake over the weekend of July 9, 2021, the Ray Behrens and Frank Russell Campgrounds are closed beginning Sunday July 11, 2021 – Sunday July 18, 2021, as a minimum timeframe. Additional delays in openings are expected past this date. A large amount of storm debris is in the campgrounds, as well as a lack of power and sewer in the area is currently being evaluated.
Campers with reservations at the 2 campgrounds during this period should receive an email from www.Recreation.gov notifying them that due to the closure, their reservations have been cancelled and they will receive a full refund.
The Corps will be providing the campers set to arrive today, Sunday July 11, in the Ray Behrens and Frank Russell Campgrounds with the option of a free standard electric site at the Indian Creek Campground. These reservations from Monday, July 12 – Sunday July 18, will be accommodated on a first come-first serve basis, as not enough campsites are available.
To make a reservation, email Marktwaininfo@usace.army.mil. Phone service is currently unavailable at the Mark Twain Lake Project Office and M.W. Boudreaux Memorial Visitor Center.
The Mark Twain State Park off of Highway 107 has limited sites available. Reservations for the State park can be made by clicking here reservations.
The Corps apologizes for the inconvenience this is causing campers and will provide updates on closure extensions as soon as possible if necessary.
7/10/21 4:32 PM –
As many of you are aware, the Mark Twain Lake region was hit by a severe storm late Friday night, leaving a large amount of damage in its wake. Small towns around the lake all were subjected to heavy rains and extremely high straight line winds and NWS officials are investigating if some of the damage was caused by tornados.
Among the hardest hit was Perry, where nearly every yard had an uprooted tree or large limbs down. A survey of the town this morning was punctuated by the sound of chainsaws and heavy equipment as residents and volunteers worked to clear debris. In addition, many area residents were without power as numerous powerlines were downed by the high winds.
The good news is that, despite damage over a wide area, to date, there have been no reports of injuries from the storm. There also was no damage to road infrastructure and nearly all businesses are open to visitors. Currently, the lake is rising from Friday’s rainfall, but major boat ramps remain open.
In addition to downed limbs and powerlines throughout the region, Blackjack Marina at the lake suffered extensive damage to its dock area. As of right now, the entrance gate to Blackjack Marina is closed as they work to repair storm damage. Several other businesses and private structures were damaged, including Dry Dock near Paris, Hobbie Hut and several downtown buildings in Perry, and Hitching Post and Jellystone Park on Route J. A number of camping trailers located around the lake also were damaged, including several which were overturned by the high winds.
Among Corps of Engineers facilitities, nearly all recreation areas suffered downed trees and limbs, resulting in the closure of some areas until crews can clear the debris and make them safe for visitors. Among those known closed as of this afternoon were the M.W. Boudreaux Visitor Center complex and Bluffview Recreation Area. The Ray Behrens Campground was without power and Corps officials were evaluating if that area and the other 2 Corps campgrounds will need to be closed as a safety precaution until they can be cleared of debris from downed trees.
Here are a few photos taken during a 100-mile loop around the lake this morning, as well as a number of photos submitted by area residents, and some taken from other Facebook posts. Feel free to comment and share your storm damage pictures on this post. You can also become a member of View from my Mark Twain Lake Life and see many other local photos, or view our earlier post from this morning.
We will post new information regarding closings and openings as they become available, so be sure to like and follow Explore Mark Twain Lake.
7/10/21 8:42 AM –
Tough night here at Mark Twain Lake. The powerful storm that ripped through our area overnight left a ton of damage in its wake. Many parts of the region got upwards of 3.5″ of rain and extremely high winds caused damage over a wide area. Currently, Perry seems to be among the hardest hit, with trees and powerlines down throughout the town, along with damage to a number of structures, including Hobbie Hut and a downtown building. The pattern of damage suggests it was caused by a tornado, but that has yet to be determined. There also are reports of some damage to Blackjack Marina, Dry Dock and the Hitching Post.
Perry and some other areas are without power because of numerous power poles and lines down. There are reports of campers being flipped over and other structures destroyed. Even with all the damage, there are no reports at this time of any injuries, so the focus is on clearing debris and working to restore power. Please refrain from any unnecessary trips to these areas and allow the folks in our area to spend the day taking care of these issues.
If we are able to accumulate pictures from throughout the area, we will post an album later today. If you have pictures you would like to be included in the album, you can send them by private message to Explore Mark Twain Lake. Please provide a line of information for identification.