ARKABUTLA LAKE, MS - One of Mississippi's coolest spots is off limits this summer. The swimming areas and beaches at Arkabutla Lake in DeSoto County are closed because of damage from May's flood.
Clean-up is going to be expensive, and it's going to take a long time.
"We've got a lot of work to do to get the place back to normal, back to what we typically like to offer the public," says Bill Fly, with the Army Corps of Engineers.
Parking spots are missing huge chunks of concrete. Driftwood, gravel and debris are everywhere. Some campsites and picnic tables are still underwater. Visitors aren't showing up.
"Usually, there are more campers out here than this," says Bo Sullivan, a camper himself.
But in this heat, people aren't coming because they can't get in the water while the beaches are closed.
"We have to close them all for safety reasons," says Fly, "safety reasons being underwater obstructions in the lake and unknown drop offs in the water."
The water is still 12 feet too high at the three beaches. Their closure is causing problems for local businesses.
"A lot of people come out of Memphis and go swimming down there," says store owner Lee Stallings, "but now, they don't come."
"It's been awful slow this summer," adds local bait supplier Robert Treadway, "more than usual."
"On a hot weekend like today," says the Army Corps' Bill Fly, "this past weekend, there would be hundreds of people on the beaches and in the water."
This year, people aren't even coming on major holidays.
"The Fourth of July is a big deal and it was nothing," Stallings tells abc24.com.
10,000 fewer visitors came to the lake this for the Fourth of July this year, versus last, and 16,000 fewer visited on Memorial Day weekend.
"When people aren't coming here, there's no money coming into the vault," says Fly. "That's money that goes to the U.S. Treasury."
If the water recedes fast enough, the beaches will reopen by Labor Day, but that could be wishful thinking.
"It's going to be close," says Fly, "it's going to be a real close call. Before we can reopen those campsites to the public, we'll have to repair all that erosion. We've got concrete to pour, we've got to lay down rock in places where erosion took place. That's kind of an expensive cleanup."
The Army Corps of Engineers' initial estimate is around $100,000.
"It's a lot of fuel,"says Fly, "and a lot of labor hours, and a lot of debris has to be cleaned up."
Because the water's still too high, there could be even more damage. The Corps is still waiting for it to come down to determine how much damage. They think it will be next Spring before everything is cleaned up and back to normal.