Chattahoochee State Park: One year after Hurricane Michael

GORDON, Ala. (WTVY) Chattahoochee State Park was one of many areas in the Wiregrass that took a direct hit from Hurricane Michael last October.

Houston County commissioners made the tough decision to close the park permanently last month.

Now one woman, who calls the park home, takes us back to the day her life, and the park, changed forever.

What was once a flourishing sanctuary of wildlife and forest is now a wasteland of destruction.

Trampling through wrecked and ravaged woods, Kim Taylor takes me on a tour of what's left of Chattahoochee State Park.

She tells me about impassable paths and a creek you can no longer get to.

It has been an emotional year for Taylor who lives on the property with her family.

Adding to the struggle, she's battling an illness, and still working to piece together her life.

She said the category five storm caught her and her family off guard.
"We did not expect what we got,” said Taylor.

“A bad storm and maybe a few broken limbs and all that. That's what we expected. We stayed here. We didn't really prepare. And you could hear snap, crackle and pop constantly as the eye spun over us," Taylor recalls.

And it would be weeks before some services were restored.

"Civilians, not county, state or anybody else, just people that live here, are the ones that cleaned the roads. [They] got out there with their tractors, and everybody got on their little gators, four-wheelers, Hondas and went and checked on neighbors out here and started moving everything out of everybody's yards. I think that we were without power for almost a month," Taylor said.

And though Hurricane Michael may have destroyed a lot in this area, it never shook her faith.

"God had his hand on top of the house. We were not hurt. The house was not hurt. Our vehicles got minor damage, but God was looking after us," said Taylor.

And now that Chattahoochee State Park is closed indefinitely, Taylor is hoping for another miracle.

"I would like for the state and county to be able to reopen it. I would love that. I don't see how that would happen or could happen," Taylor explained.

But even if her hopes for the park never come true, her memories can never be shuttered.

"We're gonna miss it. We're gonna miss it," Taylor said.

Despite all the chaos, Taylor managed to find humor in an otherwise serious situation.

She poked a little fun at a missing pump station, which she now believes landed in someone else's yard miles away.

She also told me that during the storm, she actually was not afraid, crediting God for keeping her, her family and possessions safe from all hurt, harm and danger.

At one point, Houston County leaders were exploring the idea of grants to rebuild Chattahoochee State Park, but they said due to the extensive damage, it would not be an easy fix.

At a county commission meeting last month, commissioners estimated the cost of repairs to be upwards of a quarter of a million dollars.