Cleanup continues after quick storm causes severe damage in Caroga

CAROGA, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A state of emergency was declared at a campground in Caroga where a strong storm downed dozens of trees Saturday night.

A usually peaceful campground has been filled with the sound of chainsaws and wood chippers; and once pristine campsites have been ruined by fallen trees.

Pine Lake Park and Campground has been in Jeff Houck’s family for 45 years.

“We’re very proud of what we built here, and it’s very hard to see what it is right now,” he said.

Monday was the second day of cleanup after a strong but brief storm snapped trees like twigs, downed power lines, and uprooted 100-year-old trees.

“It was like a locomotive coming down the main,” Houck said. “You could hear the trees start to crack and break. I heard a loud thud, tree falling.”

In a whirlwind 15 minutes, 50 seasonal homes were damaged and eight people were sent to the hospital with minor injuries.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before in the almost 20 years that I’ve been in the fire service,” Caroga Lake Volunteer Fire Department Chief Barbara Deluca said.

Deluca said the storm likely would have been deadly if it weren’t for a music festival that drew people out of their campers that night. For that, Houck is beyond grateful.

“Honestly, we are so blessed that no one was killed,” he said.

Now, it’s his mission to bring back the tranquil place that people like Raymond Parnell love. He retired 16 years ago and has spent every summer at the campsite ever since.

“It won’t be quite the same without all the pines,” Parnell said. “Maybe I have to change the name of the camp. It’s called Beneath the Pines.”

Other than a much different looking backyard, no damage was done to his camp. Neighbor Lois Sevala was lucky, too. The special place where she spends time with her grandchildren was unharmed.

“Because if my camp means a lot to me, so do these mobile homes and our summer homes,” she said.

They are summer homes that now have a long road ahead of them before they can once again be a family retreat.

The state of emergency lasts until Thursday. People are asked not to return to their homes until then for their own safety.

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