Reporter: James Gherardi / Videographer: Jonathan Merryman
Scottsburg, VA - It's been a year since tornadoes destroyed more than 200 acres of Staunton River State Park. Since then, it's been a long and slow recovery to get that park back up to speed.
To commemorate the anniversary and to see how far clean-up efforts have come, part of Governor McDonnell's cabinet spent the day touring the park.
Secretary Doug Domenech rushed to Staunton River State Park when he got word of the devastation the tornadoes caused last April. He says what he saw he'll remember forever.
"There were trees all across this road, all leading up here, you actually could not even see the house that's back here in the background because of all the trees laying across. It was like a bomb had gone off in terms of the trees being down," said Domenech.
The timing of the tornadoes couldn't have been worse. The park lost thousands of dollars in visitor revenue.
"When the storm hit, it was right when people were making their reservations to visit for the summer," said Domenech.
But more than a year later, the scene in Staunton River State Park is a very different one.
"I'm extremely encouraged. A year ago, I stood almost in this very spot, and we couldn't even drive on these roads because of the damage, the tree damage," said Domenech.
Acres of downed trees were sold for thousands of dollars. Almost $300,000 in repairs were made to rebuild campgrounds, trails and buildings.
"Natural resource managers here will work to try to make sure that the right species come back that are good for wild life, good for bird watching," said Domenech.
"This is going to be a prime place for wildlife. The turkeys, the deer, and song birds are going to love this area," said Reed Stanley, the district's resource specialist.
Park staff says what took a matter of seconds to destroy will take more than a lifetime to recover.
"It's going to be our children that are going to be watching this thing grow up. Not so much us," said Stanley.
Much of the park is green again. Staff is hoping this summer's tourism season will help recover some of their lost income.