ZION IL — A wind sheer off of Lake Michigan that was close to 100 mph last week closed the Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois Beach State Park in Zion, one of the state’s more popular parks, and the state owned North Point Marina in Winthrop Harbor.

The campground at Illinois Beach State Park was evacuated last Thursday night as trees toppled over and branches flew around the campsites, some of them landing on tents and campers.

“It hit just after 8 p.m. and about a third of the campground (241 sites in all) was filled,” said Bob Feffer, assistant site superintendent.

“It all took about 15 minutes,” he said.

“There were some scrapes and bruises, but nothing serious. It was a miracle,” said Feffer, who was called in back to work and spent hours on a tractor moving trees so campers could evacuate. On Wednesday, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources said three people had minor injuries.

“We are very fortunate that no one was seriously hurt by this storm,” said Marc Miller, director of the IDNR.

“We will reopen the park once we are sure there are no imminent hazards or threats to public safety,” he said.

The cleanup could take weeks, even with the help of work crews from the Lake County Forest Preserves, who were there Wednesday, and the Lake County Public Works Department, which was there earlier this week.

Feffer said they have seven campground hosts who are helping by calling campers with reservations for the next couple of weeks that the campground is closed.



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