Lake Martin recreational area severely damaged



by Kelly Deichert
Air University Public Affairs


5/6/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Though a tornado caused severe damage to the Air Force recreational facility at Lake Martin April 27, no people were injured in its wake.

"The first thing we did was take a head count and make sure all the people were accounted for," said Doug Hooks, the Lake Martin recreation area manager. Twelve renters and several locals took shelter in the bathhouse, which had minor damage.

The National Weather Service classified the storm, known as the Lake Martin Tornado, as an EF-4 after it ripped through Elmore and Tallapoosa counties. The path was more than 44 miles long, half a mile wide.

The tornado passed right through the recreation facility, leaving an obvious path. "It goes straight across to (Highway) 280," Mr. Hooks said.

The grounds suffered major damage, with broken power poles and snapped trees covering the road to the lake.

The 42nd Force Support Squadron reported that the guard shack and gate are destroyed. The trailer next to the guard shack is ruined, and three others were seriously damaged.

The roof was torn off of the maintenance storage building. Two pontoon boats and two metal canopies were destroyed.

Facility damage and the efforts to remove downed trees will be costly, Mr. Hooks said.

"We've got about 150 - 200 (trees) that came down, and about 40-50 more that need to come down," Mr. Hooks said.

Because more trees may fall and maintenance crews are continuing clean-up efforts, he advises people to stay away from the facility until it reopens.

Electricity has been restored to portions of the property, and crews worked hard Tuesday to try to restore water service. Mr. Hooks said he hopes the facility will reopen soon.

"We'll try to open as soon as we can. We just have to get (the safety office) through first," he said.