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Indiana state park to reopen for limited use after tornado

Damage is shown April 4, 2023, after a March 31, 2023, tornado at McCormick's Creek State Park near Spencer, Indiana. (WISH Photo)

SPENCER, Ind. (WISH) — McCormick’s Creek State Park will reopen Friday for limited daytime use after a tornado hit the outdoor recreation site and killed two people.

According to the National Weather Service, the tornado hit at 11:01 p.m. Friday with gusts of 140 mph. The 4-mile-long tornado touched down in the middle of the park. Indiana Department of Natural Resources say Brett Kincaid, 53, and Wendy Kincaid, 47, both of Rossville, Indiana, died in the storm.

Lt. Angela Goldman, a conservation officer with Natural Resources, told I-Team 8’s Richard Essex on Tuesday that, in the 1,924 acres of the state park, the tornado really centered on its campground.

The campground will be closed through Oct. 1, the park announced Thursday. People with reservations are being contacted to receive refunds. No new reservations are being accepted through the rest of 2023.

Starting Friday, Natural Resources says, park visitors will receive information on what’s available and what’s not upon arrival at the park.

Indiana State Parks said Thursday on Facebook, “The physical and natural resources of this park are forever changed by this natural disturbance, and we all have many good memories of what ‘was.’ But nature is resilient and so are we as humans, and we will now look to the future for what ‘will be.’ The physical clean-up and thoughtful planning for the future of facilities and natural resources will take time, and our DNR team is ready and already working to tackle the challenges and opportunities.”

McCormick’s Creek, Indiana’s oldest state park, was dedicated on July 4, 1916, as part of the state’s centennial celebration.

What’s open, what’s closed

Visitors cannot walk or drive into areas where barricades, “closed” signs or both are displayed.

As planned earlier this week, the Canyon Inn hotel will reopen Friday and its Easter Sunday buffet will go ahead as scheduled. Some family cabins and other rentable facilities are damaged and will be closed for repairs.

The saddle barn will be open on its regular schedule and trail rides are available.

Group camp structures continued to be assessed for damage.

The nature center remained without power Thursday and may not be opened for the weekend. Reptiles from the center were moved to other state parks.

The fire tower, not damaged in the storm, will be open.

The McCormick’s Creek Falls will be viewable from Trail 3, but damaged trail structures remained closed.

Wolf Cave and trails accessing Wolf Cave Nature Preserve remained closed.

The park also was asking people to sign up online to volunteer to help once a damage assessment is done.

(WISH Image)