HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Wildwood Park protected the City of Harrisburg from major flooding last week but it got plenty of damage in the process.
Ida brought the kind of flooding wildwood hadn’t seen in a decade. It destroyed some of the boardwalks in the process, so now officials are looking to raise money to fix it up.
More than 100,000 visitors use the trails at Wildwood Park every year.
“Probably come about once or twice a week, sometimes three times a week,” Daniel Gemmell said.
But some will have to change their routines after the remains of Hurricane Ida brought heavy rain to the Midstate.
“The water was about four feet above the boardwalk and this whole area is designed to handle that,” Park Manager Chris Rebert said. “This is a floodplain and that’s really its purpose to absorb those waters. It’s part of a healthy ecosystem.”
The land can handle the water but the boardwalk built in the mid-’90s can’t. Part of it’s now destroyed.
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“Fortunately we have a plan to repair this boardwalk before the flood,” Rebert said. “This is not a surprise. We knew this was going to happen. Friends of Wildwood had been fundraising for this for over a year.”
Now they need more money, and thanks to Ida, they need it even more urgently than they thought. But they’re also looking on the bright side.
“We see this as an opportunity to bolster education for the community and help share the importance of Wildwood and that it manages floodwater for the city,” Rebert said.
A stone dam on the south of the park forces water to sit in the lake, then flow a mile to the North into the Susquehanna Spillway…and finally into the Susquehanna River.
But even the lake itself needs some restoration work.
“The lake is filled in with sediment and it’s been that way for about a decade. So we’re losing important habitat and we’re losing the ability to manage floodwaters,” Rebert said.
Dauphin County is now looking for state and federal funding to help restore the wetland to make sure it’s ready to do its job the next time a major flood comes.
Wildwood Park is looking for volunteers to help clean up debris from the storm Saturday morning from 10 a.m. to one p.m.
For more information about the campaign to Save the Boardwalk and to donate, click here.