"We manage 49 properties, from state parks to state forests to rail-trails and wildlife management areas," Caplinger said. "Forty-eight of them suffered damage. A few structures were damaged, and a lot of trees got broken or blown down, but we were extremely fortunate that no one was killed or seriously injured."
At the time the storm struck, all of the system's campgrounds, cabins and lodges were filled with people.
"Remember, this was the weekend before the Fourth of July, and the parks were packed," Caplinger said. "We were expecting the biggest [visitation] weekend in the history of the system. Instead, people ended up going home."
He said the cleanup costs, though high, would have been much higher if parks officials had called in outside labor.
"[The cleanup] was all done by existing park staff. One of the neatest cleanup stories came from Cass [Scenic Railroad State Park]. They had trees down all over the [railroad] line. The staff there harked back to the railroad's logging days. They hooked chains to the fallen trees and used locomotives to pull the trees off the tracks. A 65-ton Shay locomotive can move a tree in a hurry."
Caplinger said most of the cleanup and repair work is done, but a couple of areas still need to be addressed.
"We're going to have to get a contractor in to repair damage to some cabins at Greenbrier State Forest, and we still have trees down on a lot of hiking trails. But we're working on those things," he added.
Agency officials aren't sure when the storm's lingering effects will fade and West Virginians return to parks in their usual numbers.
"We'll just have to wait and see," Caplinger said. "Until then, the Parks Section will have to eat some pretty hard financial cheese."
Reach John McCoy at johnmc...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1231.