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Volunteers help clean storm damage from Sleeping Giant State Park

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HAMDEN  - Sleeping Giant State park is still closed to the public as the state continues to clean up damage from the storms that tore through it in May.

DEEP tells us the heavy rain last month caused some setbacks, but they are making progress and hope to open the park in the not so distant future.

The state has help, though.

Every Sunday, the Sleeping Giant Parks Association works on maintaining the trails at Sleeping Giant. Every Sunday since June, their work has been a bit more daunting.

“We started from the back end of the park and we're working our way towards the front,” says Chuck Schall, a volunteer for the association.

“This is a one time deal because of the storm,” says Ray DeGennaro, the trail crew leader. He is responsible for organizing crews and putting them on different places of the mountain. “Generally, what we do is we maintain the trails by painting the blazes and cleaning up the trails and things like that.”

The crew has cleaned up damage before due to hurricanes like Hurricane Sandy, but the damage from this storm is unprecedented.

“I don't know, historically...”, says the Parks Association’s community outreach coordinator, Julie Hulton, who is known for her knowledge of the history of the park. “I haven't seen any reference to anything this massive...it's really a big one.”

The volunteers and the state have already cleared most of the Tower Trail, but there are many other sections of felled trees on other trails.

“Most of the sections, especially on the north side, you don't get 25 feet and there's a big tangle of trees that takes us maybe two hours to get through,” says DeGennaro. “Then next week, we come out and do another 25 feet, so some of it is very slow. But, we're making progress.”

Some of the worst sections are near the chin and head of the giant, where the red triangle and violet trails are.

The state has made sure that the group takes safety precautions when helping clean the damage.

They're required to wear hard hats and safety goggles and need to be certified to handle a chainsaw.

Despite the potential dangers, volunteers are determined to help get the park back open.

“Now with this, everybody's volunteering,” says Dominick DeGennaro, a volunteer. “They want to help. It's rewarding to do it.”

It's rewarding, and associated with good memories.

“I got my husky merit badge here. My wife and I were married on top of the trail,” says Schall.

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