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Alamance Parks Department cleans up flooded Saxapahaw Island Park – again

SAXAPAHAW, N.C. -- Our recent stretch of dry weather is allowing the Alamance Parks Department to clean up a natural space that's been hit hard by flooding.

"We find a lot of driftwood and a lot of trash," said Guil Johnson, with the Alamance Parks Department.

Along with picking up wood and trash that floated down river, crews from the Alamance Parks Department are removing broken tree limbs and reshaping sandy hiking trails at Saxapahaw Island Park.

Just like the name implies, the green space is surrounded by the Haw River. According to Johnson, over the last 10 years, the Haw River has been above 20 feet eight times. That's eight times Saxapahaw Island Park has been flooded. Out of the eight times, three of those have come since September.

"You have tributaries like Alamance Creek and others north of here," Johnson said. "All of that water feeding in at the same time makes for so much water coming through here."

Fast-moving flood water has also knocked down a lot of fences. In terms of expense, a lot of manpower has been spent at Saxapahaw Island Park. Crews have been diverted from other park duties in order to clean up the flooded park. The walking trails are clear again and the island park is open. But there's not a lot they can do about the parking lot that's covered in thick, heavy mud.

"We kind of have to wait for the mud to dry before we can scrape it," Johnson said. "The parking lot is gravel and we have to wait to get equipment on there."

Since the parking lot is closed, visitors have to park in the Village of Saxapahaw and make the short walk to the island park.

If the Haw River floods again, Johnson said crews will return to clean up Saxapahaw Island Park -- again.

"This park has been great. We average 4,000-5,000 people a month. It's very popular," Johnson said.

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