On Wednesday evening, the Fort Smith area was struck by a number of severe thunderstorms that dropped about seven inches of rain and hail the size of golf balls and larger. The hail and flooding from the heavy rain caused significant damage to the park:
About a foot of water filled the plaza in front of the parkâs visitor center after the drainage grates filled up with debris. The water entered the building through the front doors and made it up to the information desk. Staff moved all bookstore items and furniture to higher ground and got the standing water out of the building by 3 a.m. The single pane stairway windows were knocked out; although water entered at that point, it caused no significant damage to the interior. Two or three exterior panes of the double pane windows in the administrative offices were broken, but the main water damage to the interior came through around the cupolas and end caps. Roof and flashing damage is undetermined at this time. The visitor center was closed yesterday so that carpets could be cleaned and dried.
The maintenance building lost all of its skylights, and park staff had to work into the early hours of the morning to cover them with tarps. A good deal of water entered the building and is being removed. Fortunately, neither the park collection nor its server were damaged.
The commissary lost at least six windows and numerous slate shingles.
Frisco Station lost seven windows and the upstairs area sustained significant damage from water, wind and broken glass. The alarm system was knocked out. Roof and other damage is as yet undetermined.
Several employees lost windows in their homes and a couple of employees reported hail and debris damage to their vehicles. No injuries have been reported, though. Pea Ridge has sent three employees to the park to help cover the broken windows. The visitor center should reopen tomorrow if carpet cleaning is completed.