Workers operating backhoes, dump trucks and other heavy equipment have begun work near the Historic Port of Falmouth Park to clear away fallen trees and debris left behind from after last year’s heavy rainfall and flooding.
The park has been closed, with the exception of one weekend, since June 2018.
Last June’s flood saw the Rappahannock River crest at just over 25 feet, about 12 feet above flood stage. It not only caused “severe flood damage to several homes and historic structures, but left massive piles of debris in the roadway, walking trails and throughout the entire park area,” said Stafford County Fire and Rescue Division Chief Virgil Gray.
“Immediately after the flood, cleanup efforts were conducted, hauling numerous truckloads of debris to clear River Road and the walking trail, but much of it remains along the river, the surrounding area and in the wood line,” said Gray.
Late last month, Stafford County Supervisor Tom Coen led a town hall meeting to discuss the problem with county officials and area residents. The meeting also touched on River Road’s frequent closures during flooding, and how to get the nearby park and beachfront ready for the community to enjoy again.
During that meeting, a joint initiative was launched with several local agencies and organizations to safely and efficiently get the area cleaned up and ready for spring. A communitywide cleanup was scheduled for March 30–31. Local organizations and agencies will team up with volunteers to move the large, washed-up trees into manageable piles for removal.
Members of Team Rubicon, an international group that provides relief to those affected by domestic and natural disasters, will spend the two days at the park conducting chainsaw proficiency training. Shannon Jurrens, Team Rubicon’s local representative, expects more than 30 team members to participate in the Falmouth event.
Stafford officials will also use the weekend cleanup to cross-train county employees on heavy equipment.
The cut wood will be placed into dump trucks and roll-off containers for transport off the site.
Adam Lynch, restoration coordinator with the Friends of the Rappahannock, will participate in the event, along with members of his organization. He is elated that the park will be cleaned up and brought back to life.
“Lots of people use the park as their primary way to see and enjoy the river,” said Lynch, an avid fisherman. “I’m glad this cleanup is going to take place in time for spring.”
Those wishing to help with the cleanup March 30–31 should attend a safety and orientation meeting at 9 a.m. Thursday at the Historic Port of Falmouth.
“Our first priority is safety for all staff and all volunteers,” said Gray. “We will be discussing the operation itself, as well as the important safety precautions that everyone should take during those two days, including wearing—at a minimum—closed-toed shoes, eye protection and gloves.
“Lots of people want to roll up their sleeves and take pride and ownership in their river, so this will be a joint effort between the community and with volunteers to make that happen,” said Gray.
Stafford Sheriff’s spokeswoman Amanda Vicinanzo said the Sheriff’s Office will release information on how to volunteer and participate within the next week.