ELDORA, Iowa — On Sunday morning August 9th, 2009 a huge wind-driven hail storm came through Hardin County, striking Eldora, and Pine Lake State Park. Huge softball-sized hail smashed windows, downed trees, and shreded leaves making trees barren.
“I was in my pickup leaving the campground,” said Park Manager, Don Primus. “A softball sized hail came through my windshield, landing on my seat.”
The storm was also hard on Pine Lakes’ Eastern White Pines, which is why it got the name Pine Lake. Thousands were downed.
Ninety-eight percent of the eastern white pine were killed out right,” said Primus. Eighty-five percent of the canopy was defoliated, it smells like silage around we had a foot of leave a green leaves fermenting on the ground.”
The State of Iowa began working to rebuild the damaged structures in the park. But the trees lost will take a bit longer.
“People have donated trees, the Arbor Day Foundation has been very helpful we planted a total of 10,000,” said Primus. “We’ve done several different plantings you don’t want to have all the same year all the same age trees for the future.”
One problem remains. There are hundreds of dead, damaged trees still standing. That can be a problem. One tree fell and hit Primus in 2017 causing him injury. Primus said the way to deal with it would be to hire a contractor to cut all the dead trees, but that could be costly.
The Derecho of August 10th did not hit Pine Lake State Park. Only a few small branches were blown over. But the lesson learned here is that you can come back after a big natural disaster.
“It was really strange the first when it first when it happened,the first six days I never even heard a bird I mean complete silence,” said Primus. “So, I think the key to coming back from this is diligence and patience.”
Pine Lake State Park is mostly all closed this summer due to a major renovation going on in the Campground, and Cabins. Drivers can still cruise through the public road.