Hundreds of campsites evacuated at local state parks ahead of Elsa

Posted at 12:52 PM, Jul 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-08 17:58:25-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - First Landing State Park closed to visitors on Thursday ahead of Tropical Storm Elsa.

News 3 went to the park Thursday morning and saw campers heading out. Two campers added that they plan to return to the park tomorrow to finish their vacation.

Lee Cline, vacationing from Lynchburg, says he's been watching the weather reports and was a bit surprised they were being evacuated. He said they plan to stay in their RV, hoping to park it in a large store parking lot.

"We have a generator, and thank goodness it’s not going to be as hot as yesterday, so we’ll be okay, I think," said Cline.

A media representative with Virginia State Parks said in anticipation of high winds and potential flash flooding brought on by Tropical Storm Elsa, Virginia State Parks closed parks located within the Tropical Storm warning area.

Effective 8 a.m., Thursday, the following parks are closed:

  • False Cape, Virginia Beach
  • First Landing, Virginia Beach
  • Kiptopeke, Northampton County
  • Belle Isle, Lancaster County
  • Machicomoco, Gloucester County
  • Westmoreland, Westmoreland County

The representative said about First Landing 200 camp sites were affected as these people were camping overnight and were faced with leaving.

Kiptopeke State Park had about 100 sites affected, and there were only a handful of campers at False Cape on Thursday.

One worker in the office at First Landing was heard telling a camper “evacuation is required."

Campers needed to be out by 12 p.m. Thursday and can return Friday to First Landing as of now. They are closed to new visitors for rest of the day.

Decisions to reopen will be made on a park-by-park basis after damage assessments have been completed and only when it is safe to return to operational status.

Overnight guests with reservations affected by the closures will be refunded in part or in full, respectively, should they choose to return to their scheduled reservation once operations resume, or should they depart early altogether. Affected reservations are also eligible for transfer to future stays based on availability.

Reservation specialists are available by calling 800-933-PARK (7275), but be aware that increased call volume during this time will result in longer wait times.

Click here for the latest updates on Tropical Storm Elsa.