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How park and marina cleanup is going after that nasty storm on Lake Lanier
SingingTree owner Jesse Smith said he and his team worked for a week to remove more than 100 trees at Aqualand Marina, following a strong storm on Aug. 3. Photo courtesy of Jesse Smith.

Some parks on Lake Lanier remain closed and cleanup continues at some marinas more than a week after a powerful storm with winds up to 80 mph that damaged boats and docks and snapped large trees. 

Two days after the Aug. 3 storm, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that several parks on the south side of the lake would be partially or fully closed as corps staff “remove hazards and conduct area surveys to ensure public safety.” 

A news release from the corps said Van Pugh North would be fully closed, while Vanns Tavern, Two Mile Creek and the day use and picnic portion of Burton Mill would be partially closed. The Burton Mill boat ramp remains open. 

Cleanup at those parks has not yet begun, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awaits “additional funding to make this happen,” according to Chris Arthur, a spokesman for the corps. 

Old Federal Campground is also closed but originally closed because of water damage it suffered earlier in the year, Arthur said. The campground also took tree damage during the storm on Aug. 3, he said. 

Photos of the damage show large trees laying across picnic tables, sidewalks and other park facilities around the lake. The Times also received a firsthand account and videos of the storm from inside a houseboat. 

The corps’ news release reminds Lake Lanier neighbors that anyone who plans to remove damaged or hazardous trees located on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers property must first receive a permit. 

The corps asks that dangerous trees or those posing a threat to property be reported to the USACE Lake Lanier Project Management Office at 770-945-9531. The agency says reopenings will be announced on its Facebook page

Meanwhile, cleanup and repairs at Aqualand Marina, which received the most damage from the Aug. 3 storm, continue. 

Jesse Smith, owner and founder of SingingTree Prune & Removal based in Hoschton, said he and his crew heard of the damage at the marina at about 5:30 p.m. the day of the storm and were on site about an hour later to offer their services. They started work the next morning. 

Smith said when he arrived, there were “at least 200 trees scattered throughout the property.” About 150 of those were down on the north side of the marina, he said. 

Aqualand cleanup video

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“There (were) trees taken 60 to 70 feet from their original position. At least 100 trees folded in a perfect ‘U’ shape,” he said, adding that at least a dozen docks had been separated and boats thrown on top of each other. “It took three hard working days to get them access to land.” 

For seven days, Smith said he and others worked to clear about 120 trees off the docks to restore pedestrian access. 

“In all, from our seven days, we pulled out six large truckloads full of logs — somewhere around 150 trees,” he said. “Our job was specifically to clear out any extreme caution trees as quickly as possible and anything needed to provide access to the docks.” 

Now, he said, people at the marina are working mostly on boat and dock repairs and his team will return later to finish the cleanup “at a different time.” 

Multiple requests for comment from management and representatives at Aqualand and Holiday marinas went unanswered.