As clean up crews continue to clear debris from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, officials say Cades Cove, the Cades Cove Loop, and several other roads in the area reopened at 6:45 Saturday evening.
Laurel Creek Road and the Little River Road from Elkmont to the Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area also reopened along with the Cades Cove Campground.
Officials shut down parts of the region after a violent thunderstorm swept through the park Thursday, killing two people and injuring several others.
National Park Service [NPS] crews have been using heavy equipment to clear hundreds of downed trees. Chief Park Ranger Clayton Jordan said 45 people, in all, helped in the clean up process. Instead of bringing in help from other parks, the park used some local contractors.
NPS said excavators and chain saws were also used in the process.
"By bringing in all of these extra equipment and staff, we've made real progress," Jordan said.
Several roads remain closed including the Little River Road between Metcalf Bottoms and the Townsend Wye, Rich Mountain Road, Parson's Branch Road, and the Abrams Creek access road. The Abrams Creek Campground is also closed.
Staff began assessing the damage of backcountry trails Saturday. Crews say several trails received significant damage. The Chestnut Top Trail lost a two-mile section, according to park officials. They say they may have to close portions of several backcountry trails in the area.
Officials say they will continue damage assessment and clearing efforts through the weekend. According to Jordan, "2 or 3" cars are still in the park that have yet to be attached to an owner.
He said it's a possibility those people may be in backcountry camping.
"More likely, they're still backpackers in the backcountry and it will just take some time to get a hold of them," Jordan said.