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Storm blows in good will for RV resort
A blustery day in this desert town typically means a few tree branches down, maybe a shed or awning blown off and perhaps a little rain here and there. But the storm that occurred on Sept. 9 brought damaging winds that took out more than 65 power poles and battered the Foothills area.
It also decimated parts of Shangri-La RV Resort, a Foothills-area RV park that lay near the epicenter of the storm's path.
That had owners Jon and Tammy Heidrich scrambling to get the park relandscaped, replumbed and rebuilt while fielding phones calls from their RV guests who were trying to grasp the extent of the damage from thousands of miles away.
All this just as the Heidrichs were in the midst of getting the resort ready for the arrival of the first of the hundreds of people who call Shangri-La home for the winter months.
“Our goal is for the residents to come back and not see damage but notice that the park is even better than before,” Heidrich said. “We're getting folks rolling in and saying it looked like it hadn't been damaged. That means we did our job.”
They also are offering a special welcome this fall for their guests. With help from a local bank, a local horticulturist and a personal chef, the project is well on its way.
Guests will be greeted with home-baked cookies and a flower arrangement compliments of the National Bank of Arizona, along with a welcome bag from the Yuma Visitors Bureau, a custom Shangri-La RV Resort welcome mat, a Yuma Sun newspaper, and raffle tickets for a chance to win two season passes to the Heritage Festival's series of shows in the Historic Yuma Theatre.
“We want to make lemonade out of the lemons we were dealt and make sure our guests are happy when they arrive,” said Tammy Heidrich. “They truly are like family to us and we will always put their needs first. The cookies, flowers and welcome mat are just extra touches to make them feel at home.”
Heidrich recalled the night the storm hit. He was driving back to Yuma after visiting another park the couple owns in the Phoenix area when he found himself in the middle of a dust storm, then rain that turned the dirt on his windshield to mud. When he came over Telegraph Pass, his wife called to tell him the resort had suffered a lot of damage.
He pulled into Shangri-La just minutes after the storm went through to find “stuff everywhere ... tree limbs, and awnings and pieces.” A total of 15 trees were either blown over or uprooted. Two of the resort's retention basins had 12 to 18 inches of water with the artificial turf he had installed last summer for a putting course floating on top. In addition, a solar water heater system for the pool was torn off the roof and a section of Mexican brick wall was blown down.
Fortunately, he said, most of the park models and recreational vehicles were OK or suffered only minor damage, but two had roof and water damage to Arizona rooms.
“We had some long days,” Heidrich said of the effort to repair the damage. “The storm set us back a couple of weeks in getting ready for the season.”
They made it, but barely, he said. That included the remodeling project of the kitchen in the recreational center that got put on hold for a bit while the worst of the storm damage was dealt with.
The Heidrichs built the 300-space Shangri-La RV Resort 28 years ago at 10498 E. North Frontage Road.
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