Charleston, W.Va. -- The word "normal" has special meaning for the folks at Holly River State Park.
After all, they haven't had much of it lately. The past two years have brought freak storms, power outages, campground closures and swimming-pool closures. Even the trout stream that runs through the park had to be closed for a while.
Superintendent Ken McClintic and his staff believe all those problems are behind them now. Provided nothing else goes wrong, the park should open April 1 for what McClintic hopes will be a normal year.
"Having a normal year sure would help," McClintic said. "The staff and park guests are fed up with problems."
Holly River's difficulties began on June 29, 2012, when a freak derecho windstorm toppled trees and knocked down some of the park's overhead electrical lines. The lines were repaired, but were torn down again Oct. 29 of that year when Superstorm Sandy dumped more than 3 feet of wet, heavy snow on the mountains of Webster County.
McClintic was standing on the porch of his residence at 7:30 p.m., watching the snow pile up, when the park went black.
"I saw a flash in the sky as a transformer blew up," he said. "We were in the dark for months after that."
The lines weren't quickly repaired because the power company didn't own them; the state park system did, and it took until January to get a contractor there. Workers put the new lines underground, protected from windstorms, snowstorms and falling trees.
Parks officials had hoped to have everything ready to go by the usual April 1 opening date, but work took longer than anticipated.
"We got the cabin areas open a week late," McClintic said. "We didn't get the campground open until the first week in May, when we got the first 38 of 88 sites open. We finally got the entire campground open on Memorial Day weekend, and we got the swimming pool up and running on June 28, just in time for the Fourth of July."