As buzzing cicadas drowned out the sound of rushing cars on nearby U.S. 301, Lauren Adkins and Carolina Herrera, two members of the Florida Conservation Corps, were among the many cleaning up the grounds of Gamble Plantation on Wednesday morning.
“It looks much better,” Herrera said. “Even though it’s still messy, it still looks good.”
Around Florida, 130 state parks remained closed after Hurricane Irma swept through earlier in the week. Eight Manatee County state parks are among them.
These parks include Lake Manatee State Park, Madira Bickel Mount State Archaeological Site, Myakka River State Park, Skyway Fishing Pier State Park, South Fork State Park, Terra Ceia Preserve State Park, Wingate Creek State Park and Gamble Plantation Historic State Park.
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“We came back to a lot of downed trees, lots of tree limbs, leaves everywhere, Spanish moss all over the place,” Gamble Plantation park manager Kevin Kiser said. “Very fortunate to find all the buildings still intact.”
The Patten House and Gamble Mansion, the latter of which is said to have housed Confederate Secretary of State Judah P. Benjamin as he fled potential treason charges, were still standing, unscathed, on the property. Aside from a few panels flung off rooftops, the extent of the destruction inflicted by Hurricane Irma was more tedious than damaging.
The same couldn’t be said for two towering trees.
“One of them had a little bit of fungus in it before the storm,” Kiser said, as the tree’s branches rested on a construction fence and missed a restoration project. “We weren’t really sure if it was going to come down or not, but it did. It kind of butterflied open.”
Nearby, a cedar tree that had been hollowed out by a lightning strike last month.
“When the wind came, it knocked it over,” he said.
Kiser — who also manages the south Skyway Fishing Pier State Park, Madira Bickel Mound State Archeological Site, Cockroach Bay Preserve State Park and Terra Ceia Preserve State Park — said the closures were mainly because of downed trees or power outages, but no major structural damage was sustained.
Myakka State Park is partially under water, according to data from the U.S. Geological Survey. As of Wednesday, the river was three feet above the floodstage. At Lake Manatee State Park, manager Ed Alaniz said the popular campsite didn’t have electricity and the trails needed clearing. He said he planned on surveying Wingate Creek and South Fork in the coming days.
Kiser said Gamble plans to reopen Thursday.
To keep up with state park closures, visit floridastateparks.org.