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Florida Caverns State Park re-opens nine months after Hurricane Michael

Posted at 6:24 PM, Jul 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-01 18:24:05-04

MARIANNA, Fla. — After nine months, a place where many people turned to for an adventure, is now back open.

Florida Caverns State Park was closed due to Hurricane Michael damage, but Monday marked a special day for the park as it officially reopened.

October 10, 2018, a day that is still fresh in park manager Jacob Strickland's mind.

"We had a Category 5 hurricane hit the Florida panhandle and hit us square in the mouth and definitely left its mark," said Strickland.

Florida Caverns State Park, a popular tourist destination took a hit from the storm, forcing the park to close for nine months.

"We lost 90 percent of our trees, we had about 60 percent of our infrastructure take some significant amount of damage and it left a lasting impact on the staff here," said Strickland.

After months of clean-up, the park's cave and museum are now open to visitors.

"We're ecstatic to open up these doors again. It's been nine months since we've been open," said Strickland. "We're ecstatic, the Florida Caverns Gift Shop is ecstatic, the community is ecstatic, the staff is ecstatic."

Visitors from all over the country come to visit Florida Caverns State Park. For one family, Monday's opening was a special day.

"It's very important to the community. The kids love it and it just gives back to the community," said visitor Mackey Newman.

While the caves are back open, there is still work left to be done. Most of the hiking trails and the park's water area remain closed.

"Just pushing forward, being positive, spinning a positive light on everything and looking for the silver lining through all of this debris," said Strickland.

In the next three weeks the park hopes to have some of its trails opened. Also, a ribbon cutting will take place Wednesday July 10 at 10:00 a.m. at the park for those interested in showing support.