With the devastating storms and flooding in recent weeks, all of Howard County has been affected, including the area’s youth league ballparks.
Both the Northside Little League and Kokomo Girls Softball incurred extensive water damage over Memorial Day weekend.
The Kokomo Girls Softball League was flooded extensively, and volunteers worked to uncover the drainage covers, which feed into the drain covers in the park, on Berkeley Road to lessen the damage. Until they were uncovered, the water in the park could not recede. This wasn’t the first rodeo for those working the park, as it has suffered years of bad weather and annual floods. The volunteers worked quickly to make the park playable again get the girls back on the field.
“Sadly, we know the drill at this point and what to expect from the field and what to expect from the building,” said Jenn Goad, president of KGSL. “We’re just going to have to keep dealing with it as long as we keep getting dumped on.”
Since Goad took over as league president three years ago, the field is in double digits for flooding, with three instances of extensive damage to the field and buildings.
After Memorial Day, Goad decided to push the following games back a week, a decision that came with years of experience related to Indiana’s weather and one that had the players’ safety as a number-one priority.
“Our field was covered in water. It was completely saturated,” said Goad. “The field was most definitely not safe to play, and I’m not going to let the kids be out there if it is not safe to play.”
Instead of playing, Goad, her family, and a team of volunteers cleaned up the park, removing debris and trash that spilled over from garbage cans around the area. Flooding tipped over the garbage cans, then spreading it over the park. Volunteers spent the day cleaning up the field and then began to focus on the buildings. Luckily, all of the food and frozen goods from the concession stands were removed before the storms, and the freezer was put on pallets to raise it, saving them from flooding.
“It’s trial by fire,” Goad said. “We had to replace the freezer’s compressor last year, so we made a conscious effort to make sure all of our stuff was as high as possible.”
Across town, the Northside baseball park was dealing with flooding damage of its own. On Saturday, May 25, the storm brought down a light pole, wrecking some fencing in the major league section of the park.
Robbie Pattengale, president of Northside Baseball League, took care of the damage as quickly as it arrived.
“We got a new pole set up almost immediately,” said Pattengale. “We had one of our sponsors come out and fix the fencing as well.”
Like the KGSL, Pattengale, several coaches, and board members went to the park to clean up sticks, garbage, and other debris around the area.
While the storming may have delayed summer ball for a time, the sense of community that came with the players, families, and everyone involved with the youth league was undeniable.
“We wanted to be good stewards, good neighbors, and so we got a good group of volunteers to help with the damage,” said Goad. “We’re very lucky to have the help that we did.”