MURRELLS INLET, SC (WMBF) - A major flood, fire, and now a hurricane - one local park is bouncing back from all three in a year's time. Despite all of the damage, Huntington Beach State Park is opening earlier than others in South Carolina.
Workers are crediting the re-opening to early hurricane planning and preparation.
This was the first time the Huntington Beach State Park needed to close for more than a day in over ten years. Rangers said phones are ringing off the hook with people calling wanting to know when it will reopen. Friday is that day.
Park Manager Brenda Magers said the park evacuated and closed October 5. She said extensive planning helped save the park from any major damage.
The storm surge was the worst of it. Magers said the water around the causeway was at the rocks at high tide and then rose about another seven feet. The water flooded the causeway and caused erosion, so traffic couldn't get through. This was the main reason the park closed, but it's fixed. She said downed trees weren't a big deal, but what was a big change was how the animals reacted.
Magers said there were "animals napping on sidewalks, walking down the middle of the road because it all only took them a couple days to get them used to there not being vehicle and pedestrian traffic, and then they're just closer to the sidewalks and closer to the roads than they would typically be. That's been interesting to see."
The animals are expected to get back into their normal routine, along with the park as a whole. Today, hundreds of people are expected to come through the gates and all 133 campsites are booked.
The re-opening couldn't come at a better time. Rangers have been working on the outside while the volunteers show off their creative side for the Atalaya Fall Festival and Haunted House. The annual event is getting the finishing touches to open up Friday, along with the rest of the park.
Magers said there's fall crafts, carnival games, storytelling and things to do for the whole family. The haunted house is also broken in to two sections: one for the brave and one for the, not so brave and little ones.
"I really believe it's going to be the biggest and the best haunted attraction that we've ever done, because we've had so much time," Magers explained. "While a lot of our skilled staff has been running chainsaws and running equipment and heavy intensive work, we've brought in volunteers with some strong artistic background to help us with setting up the rooms, setting up the scenes and setting up some of the haunted parts of the attraction."
This definitely wasn't done in a day. If you've ever been to Atalaya you know the layout for the old home is the perfect setting for a spooky walk.
Below are more details on the event:
Oct. 28 - 29, from 6 - 9 p.m. The family-friendly fall festival includes carnival games, crafts, an outdoor movie, toasted marshmallows, a bonfire, ghost stories and two kid-friendly haunted houses in the Atalaya Castle. Admission for adults is $10, children 6 -15 are $7.