Tornado damage shuts down Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area's summer season

District Ranger Gerald Lawrence
District Ranger Gerald Lawrence

HOUSTON COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - You can't step foot inside the gate of Ratcliff Lake Recreation Area without a hard hart.  That's because tornado damage has made the park one giant hazard.

"These trees even if you might not see it - they may have been knocked around so much, some of them are leaning. We're looking at which ones are possible hazards," said Gerald Lawrence, District Ranger for Davy Crockett National Forest.

The park has been closed since the tornado touched down last month.

"It hit just as we were getting our recreation season off the ground," said Lawrence.

Damage assessments show about 80 acres of the rec area and forest district sustained tornado destruction.  The tornado ripped an entire tree, including the roots, from the ground taking with it a big piece of concrete parking lot.

"What we're looking at doing is trying to get the lake opened up as quickly as we can," said Lawrence.

To get the roads cleared, crews had to chop down a lot of wood.

"We'll put together timber-sale packages to come in and remove salvageable logs," said Lawrence.

After the logs are gone, they'll have to remove all of the debris.

"We're hoping to get the area salvages and cleaned up late this fall," said Lawrence.

The place where many East Texans spend the summer will be off limits, so that means no swimming, boating, fishing, camping or hiking all summer.