George Wyth Beach finally reopens after 2008 floods - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

George Wyth Beach finally reopens after 2008 floods

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Next week will mark four years since devastating floods swept through many eastern Iowa communities.  Those flood waters forced George Wyth State Park in Waterloo to shut down.

Among the damage left behind--the park's beach was destroyed.  But that beach is now once again welcoming visitors for the first time since 2008.

It's been a very busy this holiday weekend, with some 300 visitors Sunday alone.  Monday's warm weather brought out several more folks to the sandy shores.   And after such a long closure, park officials are hoping visitors find the new beach was worth the wait.

Kristin Woods and her three kids were enjoying some sunshine and a day at the beach.  It's something no one's been able to do in Black Hawk County for four years.

"It's really nice.  The beach looks great and the kids love it," Woods said.

Woods never visited the Wyth beach before the floods, but expects it will now be a frequent summer stop for her family.

"Most weekends if we have a free day, we'll try and get out here," said Woods.

A FEMA backlog caused repeated delays in getting final approval for the beach restoration plans.  Several studies were required, and the water was searched many times to clear out remaining flood debris.  Now, new restrooms are in place--built above the dike.  And over two million pounds of fresh sand lines the shore.

"It's just taken a lot of time in securing the funding to get it back in shape.  But it's looking pretty good.  It's nice to have it back, and we just want families to come out and have a good time," said Lori Eberhard with George Wyth State Park.

Even without the beach, George Wyth State Park has been seeing annual visitor numbers climb.  As people stay closer to home to have affordable summer fun, the park's hoping the new beach will drive even more folks to turn out this year.

"Not everybody can afford to go to the pool.  We have great pools and the water parks here in the Cedar Valley--they're awesome.  But we still have families that it's pretty expensive to take their family to go.  And then they can't take a picnic lunch with them. So when you put all that cost in there, they can come to the beach.  It doesn't cost them anything, and they can have the kids outside and enjoy the water," Eberhard said.

The only part of the beach area not back up and running right now is the concession stand. While FEMA funding covered 90 percent of the beach restoration, it didn't provide funding to repair that building.  So fundraising is underway, with hopes of getting the concessions back in business next summer

Before the floods, George Wyth Beach did have recurring problems with bacteria in the water, which caused the beach to close a few times.  So this summer, park officials say they'll be testing the water regularly, hoping that doesn't become an issue again.

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