'We can't drive home, we don't know what to do': Campers frustrated after State Parks temporarily close

FARMERVILLE, La. (KNOE) - Campers are frustrated after all Louisiana State Parks and historic sites were forced to shut down amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Campers are frustrated after all Louisiana State Parks and historic sites were forced to shut down amid the coronavirus outbreak. (Source: KNOE)

“We’re pretty stressed out,” said Joy Magwire.

“We just found out about an hour ago that we have to be out by Thursday,” said Ken Magwire.

According to the Office of State Parks, all buildings and overnight facilities will be temporally closed until April 13 effective immediately.

The Magwire family and several others at Lake D'arbonne State Park considered this new order as an eviction notice.

“We got here yesterday and thought we’re going to be here for two weeks, and now we have to find another place and I’m not sure how long that’ll last,” said Ken.

The Magwires set out on a cross-country trip in their RV in July 2019. The family eventually found their way to Texas, but the state shut down its parks on March 19 due to COVID-19 concerns. The two decided to head towards Louisiana to set up camp, but now they're facing the same problem.

The couple says their only options now are to find a private park or find a way home, but there’s a problem. Their home is Alaska, and the borders are closed.

“We can’t drive home. The Canadian borders are shut down. So we have to have a place to stay. We’d prefer to stay in our own home in our RV, so we don’t know what we’re doing yet,” said Joy.

This is their plea to the governor in hopes of reopening the parks.

“I would plea that they would please consider leaving some of these parks open for folks like us that we do live in our RV full-time and we don’t have a way to go back home.”

The Magwires say they could go off the grid, or “boondock” for a few days, but they believe that could compromise their health as we fight this ongoing pandemic.

“We call it ‘boondocking’, where you park a rig like this for five to seven days, but eventually you have to empty your sewage tanks, get fresh water, and you have to have propane and electricity for your refrigerator and those kinds of things like showering,” said Ken.

All campers have until Thursday morning, March 26 to leave the park.

“We’re not going to wash our hands every second because we don’t have the water to do that,” said Joy.

“Forcing us out of here forces us to be in closer contact with people when right here it’s wide-open space and less risky,” said Ken. “And we’re both nurses and very cognizant of infection transmission and we feel very safe here.”

According to the press release issued by the Office of State Parks, gates will remain open at State Parks from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. This will allow access to roads and established trails so residents can get outside and exercise.