A state recreation area in western Iowa that’s been closed for three years is finally set to reopen. The renovated Wilson Island State Recreation Area north of Council Bluffs was heavily damaged by flooding in 2011.
It was scheduled to reopen five weeks ago, but a severe storm on June 3 brought heavy rain, baseball-sized hail, and 90 mile an hour winds that caused further damage. Wilson Island Park Ranger Chris Anunson says gates to the park will open up at 8 a.m. on Monday (August 4). “There’s still some damage we need to take care of, but we’ve got the park to where it’s operational,” Anunson said.
The biggest damage from last month’s storm was to a new park office. “We had a new metal roof that was damaged severely, siding was broken, and 12 windows were broken out of the park office. But, every single facility within the park did receive some amount of damage,” Anunson said. The repairs to the park office still need to be made.
The entire three-year cleanup and rebuild project is expected to cost around $3 million. It includes changes that are designed to minimize damage from future flooding.
“We’ve moved our buildings to a higher elevation,” Anunson said. “Our office sits about eight feet higher than our previous office. Our shower building sits higher, playgrounds, everything. Electrical boxes in the campground have been raised 18 inches.”
No reservations will be accepted for the Wilson Island campground for the remainder of this year, so campsites are all first-come, first-serve. The Wilson Island State Recreation Area, named after former Iowa Governor and U.S. Senator George Wilson, covers 544 acres along the Missouri River.