Group Raises Money to Build Storm Shelter at State Park

Group Raises Money to Build Storm Shelter at State Park

Camping is a popular choice for many in the summer and especially during the holiday weekend. But when storms roll in, the lake isn’t always the safest place to be. But there is a group of people looking to change that.

Heading to the lake on July 4th weekend you expect to get wet. Putting tarps over tents to add an extra layer of protection from the rain probably isn’t what most campers would consider truly safe.

“When we do have bad storms here, these people are in tents, pop ups, and they are not the best place to be, even in strong winds,” says Aggie Keesling with Friends of Crawford State Park.

A weekend meant for boating and fishing can turn dangerous.

“When it’s raining very hard you cannot determine exactly what is going on outside your camper,” says Frontenac resident Marilyn Dean.

The Friends of Crawford State Park add a bright spot to the gloomy morning, serving pancakes to raise funds to build a storm shelter.

“It’s been Aggie’s dream for several years to provide some sort of shelter to the campers and visitors to our beautiful state park,” says Joe Bournonville, also with the organization.

They plan to build the storm shelter in between the 2 main campsites. The building will have multiple uses and will accommodate 300 people. Campers out on a stormy day say they welcome the idea of having somewhere safe to go.”

“That would be very beneficial, if they had sirens, I hope they’re going to have a siren to know to go to the shelter to take cover,” says Chanute resident Jackie Aday.

“It could save our lives, it honestly could, I’ve been up here when there’s high winds coming through and they come knocking on your doors but the only place you have to go is the bathrooms which is not necessarily a safe place,” adds Dean.

Aggie Keesling started the fundraising selling ice cream throughout the park. Since then, she has held several other fundraisers. With more than $300,000 to go there’s no set time line.

“In my lifetime,” 90 year old Keesling joke.

“The sooner the better, we have a lot of people to protect and we’re just working as hard as we can to get it done as quickly as we can,” adds Bournonville.

They are hoping to get the majority of the remaining money with help from the Crawford County Visitor’s Bureau, Pritchett Trust, and FEMA mitigation funds. All of the food for the pancake feed was donated by Marrone’s in Pittsburg.