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In the aftermath of Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne, campgrounds and RV parks in southwest Florida’s Broward County are continuing to pick up the pieces, according to a report in the Sun Sentinel.
Restoration efforts are beginning just as the prime camping season is closing in on South Florida. Recreational vehicle owners from as far away as Canada, individual campers, along with several large groups such as the Boy Scouts reserve dates at county sites months in advance.
Markham Park in Sunrise, the largest camping area in Broward County, is only about two-thirds open as workers continue cleaning up widespread damage. The goal is to be completely open by Nov. 1, when the camping areas begin to get busy.
Park management reported that about 300 Australian pines were lost during Hurricane Frances, as high winds hit the campground area before sweeping through the rest of the park.
“You could just see how the wind came up over the levee and smashed right down on the campground. It was definitely a pattern,” said Julie Brown, the grounds maintenance supervisor at the Markham Park nursery, which is overseeing the removal of trees and replanting. “The camp area was the hardest hit, and that seemed to buffer the whole park.”
C.B. Smith Park has seen increased business because of the spillover from Markham, park manager Jeannie Hildebrand said. The park’s camping area, which is used mostly for RVs, is completely booked through April.
“Normally this time of year the campgrounds are about half full,” Hildebrand said. “Now all of a sudden, we’re getting people from Markham and the Keys.”
Florida Keys residents who own RVs drove to C.B. Smith Park as Hurricane Frances approached, and waited there to see where the storm was headed. “We never fill up this time of the year, but everybody came up here until they could see what the storm was going to do,” Hildebrand said.