Oatland Island has been trying to rebuild after damage caused by a tornado in July. Now, after months of hard work, the center is ready to re-open to the public.
The wildlife center will have a soft opening on Monday, Dec. 17. Crews are still working on clearing debris to make the trails and roadways clear for visitors.
“There are still a few animals that are not on exhibit. The deer are not exhibited, the foxes aren’t on exhibit and neither are the Bobcats. So all we are asking for is donations if people feel like they want to give us a donation,” said Annie Quintin, a teacher at Oatland Island Wildlife Center.
The tornado was the third natural disaster to hit the property in the past three years. Annie Quintin has worked there for the past 23 years and she says this was the worst of them all.
“Coming back and having another storm-related damage to recover from was very emotionally draining for a lot of people but you know the stuff is really resilient and we just picked and started working,” said Quintin.
The staff says the temporary closure wasn’t all bad, with the help of friends of Oatland Island, it actually gave them time to work on updating some of the facilities. They’re excited to finally have people on property to use them.
“We hope to have all the trails groomed and ready for people and we are excited to have people coming back,” said Quintin.
As far as safety goes — it’s a main priority.
“The school system has been working with the insurance companies to make sure that the property is safe and the trails are safe,” said Quintin.
The center will still be closed on major holidays: Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. The official re-opening will be on Jan. 12.