TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Although cleanup of damage caused by an EF2 tornado has been ongoing in the Cookson area since early December, there's still work to be done at Lake Tenkiller.
Snake Creek sustained some of the worst damage, with docks demolished by the Nov. 30 twister. Not long after the storm, preliminary assessments showed that roughly 189 structures had been damaged or destroyed.
Back in December, officials determined the damage wasn't sufficient to qualify for Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance. Nevertheless, area residents rolled up their sleeves, and with the help of donations, they began to repair and rebuild.
Now, roughly six months later, Ruggs Global Contracting Inc. has an eight- to 10-man crew working on Snake Creek Cove Campground, clearing and cleaning what they can.
Several piles of tree bark and limbs that were on fire were scattered throughout the campgrounds, while playground equipment, flush toilets and picnic tables had been swallowed by Lake Tenkiller.
"There still a lot of park out there that we can't get to," said the project manager working on the cleanup. "Since we've been here, the water has gone up about 3 feet, and right now, that's our only setback at this point."
The project manager gave his first name as "Jonathan" but refused to reveal his last name. Initially, he said the Daily Press would need "permission" to be on the scene, since the park was closed.
The manager did say that if it weren't for the water level, the job at the campground could be completed within two to three weeks.
Last week, a concerned citizen called Tahlequah Daily Press to report that little to no work was being done to the marinas and campgrounds and that boat ramps remained closed. The man did not want his name in the paper and did not return the TDP's follow-up call, though he had asked the newspaper to pursue the story.
As of now, the delay in most of the cleanup is due to the recent rising of water levels at Lake Tenkiller caused by heavy rain. On Wednesday afternoon, the lake level was 23.97 feet above normal and the flood control pool was 63.59 percent full.
Contractors are currently working "safe hours" Monday through Friday on the campground. They said their goal right now is making the park safe and completing their tasks.
"We are almost done with everything we can do until the water goes back down and completion really just depends on what the lake level does," said the project manager.