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Hundreds of special needs campers evacuated due to weather

HIGHLAND COUNTY, Ohio (Rich Jaffe) -- If the wild weather caused any problems over the last few days they are probably small compared to hundreds of campers at Rocky Fork State Park.

June 16 was the week of an annual summer camp that provided an outdoor experience for nearly 300 special needs children called Kamp Dovetail.

The weather situation Thursday got so dire the campers had to be evacuated!  Nearly 300 happy campers of all kinds suffered through hard rain Wednesday.  If that wasn't bad enough, late Thursday the downpour wouldn't stop.  Water covered the roads, flooded the tents, soaked the bedding and everything else.  That's when volunteers like Bailey Walker really went to work.

Bailey said, "The toughest part was keeping everybody calm because it was lightning and thunder.  And you know it's scary.  Oh the mud was fun.  We were slipping and sliding all over the place."

When everyone took shelter in buses Thursday evening, executive director Linda Allen put her evacuation plan into effect.  She and other volunteers calmly moved 296 special needs campers, many in wheelchairs, and 400 volunteers to the Hillsboro Elementary School.  Later that night while the campers danced volunteers returned to try and salvage the camp.

Linda explained, "The problem was all their bedding was wet so there were no pillows no blankets.  It was plenty warm so what are we gonna do?  The volunteers started calling parents, 'Do we have any extra pillows any extra blankets?'  Parents started going to Walmart and Kmart, they bought all they had."

Staff members also called the Red Cross.  They arrived with cots and blankets.  And while the showers from Mother Nature were nothing short of a nightmare at Kamp Dovetail, the good news was that showers of another kind were still in good shape.  Friday the eight new handicap accessible shower stalls  along with the washers and dryers were all getting a good workout as the very special camp wrapped up for the 27th season.

 Local 12 learned Kamp Dovetail actually has three different types of evacuation plans in place, depending on what kind of situation hits.  All the special needs campers attend the camp for free and the entire staff is volunteer.

CLICK HERE for more information on Kamp Dovetail.

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