Henry Fork River Park is set to reopen with limited amenities more than a week after the park was closed as the result of severe flooding.
The remnants of Tropical Storm Eta dropped as much as 10 inches of rain on some portions of the region. The flooding from the rains destroyed bridges, washed out roads and ruined homes in the four-county region of Catawba, Burke, Caldwell and Alexander.
The park is set to open Friday afternoon or early Saturday “with limited walking track and only use of the artificial turf field for play,” Hickory Communications Specialist Sarah Killian said.
The park’s natural turf soccer fields are closed and there is no timeline for when they will reopen.
Killian said some smaller picnic shelters and soccer goals were destroyed or damaged as a result of the storm on Nov. 12.
The water swept away sections of the walking path and riverbank, she said.
Henry River was one of the three parks initially closed as a result of the storm. Rotary-Geitner Park and Glenn Hilton Park were also closed.
Rotary-Geitner has since reopened, as has the upper part of Glenn Hilton.
The city hopes to have the lower part of Glenn Hilton open later next week. Killian said the city was waiting for the water level to drop to move forward with the cleanup there.
No cost estimate is currently available for the damage.
For Hickory resident Steve Hice, 68, the reopening of Henry Fork River Park cannot come soon enough.
Hice lives near the park and said he is there daily walking or jogging, often accompanied by his grandchildren and English setter Farley.
Since the park has been closed, Hice said he has walked his dog along Sweet Bay Lane, the road running by the park entrance.
However, the experience of walking down the road, which runs roughly parallel to Interstate 40, is not the same as walking in the park.
“I walked all the way down there and back up to the top of the hill but it’s just so noisy,” Hice said.
Kevin Griffin is the City of Hickory reporter at the Hickory Daily Record.
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