People cancelling lake plans as water levels rise

Local News

Many people use the long Memorial Day weekend to get outside and visit a lake, but this year looks to be different for most.

Normally people would be setting up for a long weekend at Lake Perry, but with flooding areas many boaters and campers have decided to stay home.

Everything is being affected right now, said Perry State Park Manager Michelle Campbell. We’re not seeing the visitation, we have a lot of cancellations.

Lake Perry is 25 feet higher than normal and is nearing capacity. Campgrounds and boat ramps are underwater. All of this is during what was supposed to be one of the busiest weekends of the year.

Campbell said the campgrounds around the lake were filled with reservations by February.

Now she’s been having to tell people if they come, they might not have electricity, running water, and won’t be able to put their boat in the lake.

Many of those people have decided not to go to the lake, meaning a loss of revenue.

We rely on lots of visitors to help us pay our bills, and in the summer months of May through August, that’s a little more than half of the state park revenue comes from those four months, said Ron Kaufman, director of information services at the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism.

Even if the rains stopped today, the amount of damage with flooding will persist for several months, and that will mean that we will have reduced campsites and campgrounds available, we’ll have flooded facilities, some beaches may still be flooded, said Kaufman.

Campbell said even with fewer people being able to enjoy the lake, it’s still serving its purpose.

“It’s holding the flood waters like it’s designed to do, and that’s going to save lives and save property.”

Campbell said depending on how much more the lake rises, even more campgrounds could lose electricity and more of the park could go underwater.

Officials cautioned that if people do visit a lake this weekend, they are careful in or near the water as the soil is saturated and many hazards are underwater that are not normally there.

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