RV Parks work together during the flood

Anita Savio IVN contributing writer

The recent snow event followed by torrential rains created a flood emergency at the Laughing Alpaca Campground and RV Park located two miles south of Cave Junction. According to owner Jeff Hintz eight trailers had to be evacuated in a frantic evening Monday, March 13, affecting about 20 people.
The park accommodates 50 RVs.
Hintz said that he had been keeping tabs on the river level via the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) website.
“When the Illinois River at Kerby gets to 18 to 20 feet deep we know it’s getting up to the river bank at the campground, said Hintz. “Over the bank is about 20. It came up to 23 feet here.”

Normal Illinois River depth is about eight feet, according to meteorologist Dan Weygand at the National Weather Service.
Hitnz added that when he and his wife purchased the campground about four and a half years ago, the previous owners warned him about the propensity for high river waters. But this was the worst he had seen. The whole process was about five or six hours of rising waters and flooding that included the center area of the park. Then by about 10 or 11 o’clock the waters were starting to come back down a little.
“It goes up really fast and it comes down really fast,” said Hintz.
But that was no consolation to park residents that had to evacuate.
As the river rose, campground staff started notifying affected residents that they should leave.
It became a group effort.
“Some people would get their trailer done and they would park it and then they’d go back and help their neighbors.”
Evacuation involved hooking up to vehicles, undoing cables, undoing septic and picking up personal items from around people’s spaces.
“We were all standing in two feet of freezing cold river water,” said Hintz. “I didn’t have proper boots and eventually my feet became numb. But the adrenaline kept us going.”
A big question was where to evacuate people to. One 91-year-old lady was moved to the laundry room apartment. Another lady who can’t move her trailer went to her sister’s house for the night.
In the middle of this Hintz called resort manager Christopher at Lone Mountain RV Park in O’Brien to see if he had any openings. Lone Mountain ended up taking five RVs with twelve people at no charge!
Other good news is that there was no report of damage to people or property.
Hintz concluded: “We all worked together good. We’re a nice little community here.”