Free camping at state parks for flood evacuees

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July 1st, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Iowans affected by flooding along the Missouri River are being offered free campsites at Iowa State Parks. Kevin Szcodronski, with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, says the offer is available to those who’ve been ordered to evacuate their homes.

“Camping in a state park for an extended period of time isn’t for everybody, but for some people, it might just suit their needs if they have the right equipment, the right frame of mind and they’re outdoors people,” Szcodronski said. “Those sites do have electricity and running hot water.”

Nearly a dozen people flooded out of their homes have spent the last month camping at Waubonsie State Park in Fremont County. A campsite with electricity and water costs $16 a day. ‚ÄúThat’s a little over $100 a week. So, that’s a pretty good savings,” Szcodronski said. “The people staying at Waubonsie, before we put the free camping on, they were looking at $400 or so to stay there for the month.”

The free camping offer is retroactive, so Szcodronski says the flood victims at Waubonsie are getting a refund for their first month. The DNR is also waiving the usual limit of 14 consecutive days of camping for flood victims. Szcodronski says state park officials are working with local emergency management personnel to identify campers who’ve been forced from their homes.

“They have provided us with a list of the streets and address ranges of the places that have officially been evacuated. When the campers show, we simply ask for their driver’s license and verify their address,” Szcodronski said.

Camping spots that are not part of the DNR’s reservation system are open to people evacuated from their homes on a first come, first serve basis. Evacuees are encouraged to call the DNR at 515-281-8004 to check on availability of campsites available for long-term use.

(Pat Curtis/Radio Iowa)