WEBSTER SPRINGS, W.Va. – Normally, the Elk River in Webster County is a fairly quiet one, but about three years ago, it broke its banks and flooded the Bakers Island recreation area in Webster Springs.
The 2016 flood caused serious damage around the state, but in this case, it was even more noticeable. The river didn’t just flood, it put the entire island underwater, destroying the park and dumping muck in the pool. But in the face of an enormous task, the people of Webster County got back to work.
“We looked at it, and they said, ‘What are you going to do?’ We’re going to fix it. That’s all you can do. You can’t stop Mother Nature. You can’t stop the water. We’ve tried to mitigate problems before the flood, which worked, and some after the flood,” said Webster Springs Mayor Don McCourt.
And now for the first time, Bakers Island is ready to go again at full strength for the beginning of the season. Soon, the pool will be filled, this time with clean water, and the renovated facilities around the island will be ready to use again. It’s a sight that means a lot to McCourt.
“Relief for the public. But it is, it’s a never-ending battle getting it done. But, we’ve got the major work finished. And, we’ve had it finished, and we’re actually open this year. We opened last year, but it was diminished. We had to work around the construction, but this year we should be ready to go for the season,” McCourt said.
And, it’s really not a moment too soon. While the pool and the park on their own are popular attractions, the 55th Annual Webster County Woodchopping Festival is just a few days away, and the park will be ready to welcome the crowds, thanks to the efforts of the town, and the people around it.
“We had a plan, and we knew what we were going to do, and we just planned our work and worked our plan. So, I’m proud of it. I’m proud of all the people that helped, all the companies, locals, and that’s what it takes,” said McCourt.