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Neuseway Nature Park reopens one year after Hurricane Matthew

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KINSTON, Lenoir County - Neuseway Nature Park in Kinston has finally reopened nearly a year after Hurricane Matthew forced it to shut down.

When Hurricane Matthew hit last October, Neuseway Nature Park was left in bad shape. Then, more weather problems caused delays in repairs. Massive flooding closed several areas in the park, including the nature center and campgrounds.

Now, people are celebrating because of the parks grand reopening, which happened on Thursday, September 14. Even Governor Roy Cooper was in attendance to mark the joyous occasion.

Bill Ellis, Director of Kinston and Lenoir County's Parks and Recreation, says the park restoration couldn't have happened without the hundreds of volunteers who helped throughout the year.

"We opened in '96 and three months later we had Hurricane Floyd and we came back and regrouped after that," Ellis said. "Then we've had Fran and Bertha and Matthew, so people are sort of used to it. They grab their shovels and their rakes and the come on down and go to work."

Since the park lies along the Neuse River, storms often flood its grounds. During Hurricane Matthew, flood waters surpassed 28 feet, higher than flood waters from any other storm since the park opened in 1996.

Still, Ellis says no amount of flood water can keep the nature park down forever. Neuseway Nature Park has 150,000 visitors each year. Three million visitors have stopped by to learn about health, local wildlife and even outer space in its 21-year history.

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