Clean up underway after storm damages boats, marina at El Dorado Reservoir

08/06/2013 11:32 AM

10/09/2013 2:53 PM

Cleanup is expected to continue Wednesday at El Dorado Reservoir after winds estimated at 80 to 100 mph swept over the state park late Monday evening, damaging several boats and the docks at Shady Creek Marina and causing a fuel spill.

Seth Turner, El Dorado State Park manager, said the fuel spill is contained and crews were pumping water from a 40-plus-foot houseboat heavily swamped, and largely sunk, by the storm.

“It was really rocking and rolling out here for a bit,” Turner said early Tuesday morning as he surveyed damage at the marina that’s within the state park. “We’re thinking we had 75 to 100 gallons of fuel spilled. We had a real good response time.”

Part of the fuel spilled when lines running from the shore to pumps at the marina were broken. More came when the houseboat sank.

Turner was confident an absorbent boom placed between two piers that protect the marina’s cove from most of the main lake stopped the spread of the spilled fuel.

“If you had to pick a place on the lake for a spill, this is it,” he said. “It’s so easy to close this area off compared to other places.”

Members of the El Dorado Fire Department’s hazardous materials crew had made several trips to the lake by Tuesday afternoon to soak up the fuel.

The storm hit the area at about 11 p.m. Monday and left the long walkway to the marina twisted and the floating marina office and gas pumps facing 90 degrees in another direction.

“It ripped A-dock away from the marina store, and in doing so, it turned the marina store around,” said Mike Morgan, Shady Creek’s owner. He said the other five or so docks had minimal damage, though they’re currently without electricity.

Most agree things could have been much worse.

Kelly Perry, Shady Creek’s office manager, said only three people were spending the night in boats at the marina. One left before the storm struck, and the other two rode out the waves in their sailboat.

“Nobody got injured,” Perry said. “It’s so very fortunate this didn’t happen on a Friday or Saturday night, when there are lots of people.

“Even with rain, we have lots of people spending their nights at the marina.”

The winds didn’t treat a houseboat called “Fair Winds” very fairly, covering it with large chunks of tin from the marina’s roof.

Worse was the swamped and sunken 40-plus-footer owned by Lonnie and Sally Owens of El Dorado.

“We got the call at about 1, but they wouldn’t let us come down until about 3 because of fumes,” Sally Owens said Tuesday morning as she and her grandson Gunner watched her husband and a crew of workers pump thick streams of water from the boat. “We’ve been pumping since about 3 or 4.”

Marina workers think the boat was swamped by high waves coming off the lake. Before pumping began, only about 2 feet of the boat’s top was visible. By 9:30 a.m., the boat was sitting much higher in the water but still contained hundreds of gallons of water.

Another of their boats, a cabin cruiser, was turned on its side in its boat slip by the storm but was righted and had minimal damage.

It’s not the first time the Owens family has dealt with storm damage to their boats at Shady Creek. Several years ago, they had another houseboat get swamped and sink when a storm hit the marina.

“That, and our home burned to the ground in the ’90s,” Sally Owens said. “We’re used to this starting-over thing.”

Turner said the state park was largely spared from significant damage. One camper was turned over by the winds, but nobody was injured. Some bathroom roofs lost some shingles, and some trees were damaged.

He didn’t expect the damage to hinder campground use this week and predicted the cleanup would be mostly done by this weekend. He thought the absorbent boom that’s sealed off the marina’s cove might be removed in a day or two, allowing boats to come and go.

Morgan said the marina is using a pontoon boat to ferry boat owners back and forth to their slips. He’s expecting a specialized repair crew Wednesday to access the damage and start repairing A-dock and the dock that holds the store and the gas pumps and lines.

“I’m hoping to be up and totally running by Labor Day,” said Morgan, who has seen about five or six similar events in the 20-plus years he’s owned the marina. “It’s pretty extensive, but it’s been worse; it’ll be worse again someday … and we’ll get it fixed back up and running.”

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