Jersey City Football Team Returns To Facilities After Massive Cleanup
Any other year, that would be nothing more than a measly offseason tidbit to go unnoticed. But considering the damage wrought by Hurricane Sandy at the school’s athletic facilities, the recent thud of weights slamming to the floor signaled one of the last phases of a recovery effort nearing completion after just 21/2 months.
Just as the school’s academic buildings suffered extensive damage during Hurricane Sandy, so did the athletic facility of Van Vorst Street. Located between Morris and Sussex streets, the facility includes the school’s turf practice field, a two-story football fieldhouse and a warehouse that houses the wrestling and baseball programs.
“I really did not expect us to be up and running (this quickly). There are still schools and businesses that are still assessing damage,” said Rich Hansen, the school’s athletic director and football coach. “If you were to tell me this in November, I would have been totally shocked. Looking back on it, it was a monstrous task.”
That’s because the first floors of both buildings were left under some 4 feet of water — a mix of storm surge and sewer waters — while the practice field, situated on the corner of Marin Boulevard and Grand Street, was also damaged during the flooding.
Immediately following the storm, Prep enlisted the help of a recovery and crisis management company to help coordinate the recovery efforts. The first two orders of business surrounding the athletic recovery were retrieving the football equipment from the flooded fieldhouse and having it specially sanitized by the equipment company, Riddell.
Next up: the practice field.
“The rolling water got under the carpet and created a rippling effect on the turf,” said Hansen. “The field was badly compromised to the point where it was dangerous to even attempt to practice on.”
Hansen’s team would finish out its 8-2 season in December using a locker room at the school, but returned to its practice field days after Sandy struck. Since football season’s final whistle, the repairs have been ongoing at the rest of the school’s athletic facilities.
The warehouse suffered a similar fate in the storm as the adjacent football fieldhouse. The wall and floor pads inside the wrestling team’s massive practice room were destroyed in the flood, which required the room to be stripped, sanitized, power-washed and repainted. Nearly the entire first floor of the football fieldhouse received a similar treatment.
The electric and plumbing in both buildings has since been completely redone, as rubber flooring and sheetrock in both buildings has also been replaced. However, the baseball team’s entire cache of equipment — from baseballs and bats to pitching machines — was lost and will have to be restocked. In the football fieldhouse, none of the weight room’s strength equipment was salvageable, but has been recently replaced along with new mirrors.
While Hansen did not say how much the athletic facility repairs totaled, he said the school suffered over a $1 million worth of damage.
He credited the school’s administration for its commitment to the athletic facilities, which he said helped student athletes quickly regain a sense of normalcy.
“It would have been very easy for our administration and our board to put athletics on the back burner, and it was quite the opposite.
“It was unbelievable to be a part of the resurgence,” he added. “It was unbelievable to see the school pull together, the alumni pull together, the board pull together.”