Hurricane Michael Closes Parks in Florida’s Panhandle
Hurricane Michael closed three of my favorite Florida Panhandle Parks. As of late-October, they remained closed or are opened with limited services.
Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park
Edward Ball Wakulla Springs is the world’s largest and deepest freshwater spring rimmed by an ancient cypress swamp. I was there some eight years ago during unseasonably cold temperatures (below 40 degrees). The spring, however, stays a consistent 70 degrees, thus the manatees huddled in the warm water. Given I had only seen a glimpse of a manatee prior to visiting, I was like a kid in the candy store as I stood on the high dive and snapped photos of these giant marine mammals.
The park also has a lodge and riverboat. I’ve always kept in the back of my mind that I would return for a weekend and enjoy both. Unfortunately, I haven’t made it back yet, and now I wonder about the amount of damage it sustained from Hurricane Michael. Hopefully, the park as well as all of the Gulf Coast will make a quick recovery.
Leon Sinks Geological Area
Leon Sinks Geological Area was another favorite destination during my year-long trip across the USA. It is located in the Apalachicola National Forest which is currently closed. The collapsed limestone sinkholes filled with water at Leon Sinks were just spectacular. Not only are they beautiful, they are part of cave systems and the Floridian aquifer that provides drinking water to millions of people. It makes me wonder how long people in Florida will be devoid of drinking water. I’ve never experienced a hurricane, and even after watching the news, it is hard for me to comprehend what Florida residents are feeling. I hope they find relief quickly.
St. Mark’s National Wildlife Refuge
St. Mark’s National Wildlife Refuge is another place on the Gulf Shore which has been affected by Hurricane Michael. The St. Mark’s Lighthouse just underwent a six month, $750K renovation and reopened in September. What terrible timing to get completely renovated and then get closed by this terrible storm. Or perhaps, if it survived, it was good timing as maybe the renovation saved it. I don’t know, but I’m anxious to find out the status as this was a wonderful refuge to visit.