Sidelined by Sandy, Westport Y aims to come storming back
Published 7:19 am, Saturday, November 10, 2012
After suffering extensive damage from flooding during Hurricane Sandy last week, the Weston Weston Family Y may be back open for business again by the end of next week.
"Our anticipation is next week, as long as things progress," Rob Reeves, chief executive officer for the Y, said Wednesday.
He estimates that it will probably cost slightly more than the $500,000 flood insurance the Y has coming to bring things up to speed in a timely fashion. Still, pending potential problems with the as-yet-untested boiler and fire safety checks, Y members may be able to hit the treadmills and the pool before long.
The rising waters of the Saugatuck River spilled into the basement of the Y, engulfing the main generator which wound up underwater. Pumps failed because of power outages, and when the pump for the 33,000-gallon Brophy Pool stopped, the 1,500-gallon surge tank in the basement was unable to handle the return flow that came back.
The Y's Childcare Center in the basement also was filled by 5 feet of water, requiring that the space be gutted.
"In hindsight you think, `What could we have done?' (but) there was just no place even to pump," Reeves said. "Our basement is below the water line."
"We had water come up through the drainage system," he added, and the basement itself had water deeper than 12 feet.
"Flood insurance is a half a million dollars," he said. "We're monitoring that closely, but we're probably going to be over that" to complete repairs.
Two large generators have been brought in and are currently providing power for the repair work at the Y. "We have power to this building, but no heat," Reeves said. "We're now hooking up a second generator in the alley off Elm Street ... We had to put a third sump pump in," he said, in the effort to get the water out.
"The ground was so saturated, it was just flowing in from everywhere," he said.
Reeves said many people have offered to help the Y get back in business, but it's been more practical to leave it in the hands of the hired professionals.
"We've been overwhelmed with support (and) offers to help," he said, including one of its vendors -- Discount School Supply -- which has told Y officials to create a "wish list" with items needed in the wake of the storm damage.
Many others have shared their feelings with Reeves about how much the facility means to them.
"It's gratifying to hear people say such nice things and how much they miss it," he said.
"There was no question that we're going to rebuild this Y," Reeves said, noting that some people are suspicious because of the organization's plans to move to a new home on its Mahackeno property in 2014.
"We've been here for 88 years and we're not going to leave the community high and dry now," he said on the Y's immediate focus on repairing the downtown center.
While Y members may be able to start using the facilities as early as Wednesday, Reeves this week did not want to make any promises.
"We'd rather beat expectations than miss them," he said.
Jarret Liotta is a freelance writer.