Youth sports association, leagues and municipal recreation programs are struggling to recover form record breaking floods that hit the Midwest in December. Heavy rains that soaked the region for days causing rivers, creeks and drainage systems to flood. Youth sports organizations with outdoor sports programs rely on flat open ground for fields and that ground is often found in flood plain areas. While ideal for playing fields, such geographic placement is a double edge sword; the ground is cheap as business and homes typically avoid it, but the low-lying ground is prone to frequent flooding.
St. Louis Metro Area Hit Hard
In St. Louis, home town of Engage Sports, we experienced this first-hand during the week of December 13th when the metro area received over 10 inches of pounding rain. Area rivers, especially the Meramec River, its tributaries, and lower Mississippi, hit historic levels. The Meramec crested at a record 44.1 feet flooding low lying fields, business parks, parks, playing fields, highways, intersections and homes in the flood water path.
The Kirkwood Athletic Association, which is situated just yards away from the Meramec River was hit hard. According to Eric Eickmeyer, President of the Kirkwood Athletic Association, the epic flood waters created the worst flood damage in their 56-year history. Rushing flood waters covered their 2-story office building, concession stands, operations buildings and ripped out fences and deposited layers of mud and debris on the fields. Total damages are estimated at $75,000 to $100,000. A GoFundMe campaign was quickly established to help pay for the recovery.
Flood Damage Assessment
As you can see from the picture of Kirkwood's destroyed office building, flood damaged buildings and structures create the greatest challenge to youth sports facilities managers. Concession stands, restrooms, offices, and sheds often need to be stripped of all interior finishes and rebuilt. Food service areas are critical and must be thoroughly cleaned, disinfected, repainted and returned to safe food prep standards. Restrooms can suffer from clogged plumbing due to settling mud and debris. Sewers and electrical systems are also expensive fixes that can take weeks or months to repair. In many cases temporary facilities will be relied upon to hit the Spring season openers which are typically in late March.
Fields can recover quickly from floods, providing the standing water does not remain for long periods of time. According to the Sports Turf Managers Association, when the temperature is less than 50 degrees, turf can withstand nearly two months of submersion. However, when the temperature is 86 degrees or higher, submerged turf may be killed in as little as 24 hours.
Sports Association Flood Fundraising
Building and infrastructure repair is the most costly aspect of flood damage for youth sports associations often costing tens of thousands of dollars and severely strapping the financial resources of any youth sports association budget. Many associations just don’t have the extra funds to absorb flood damage and flood insurance is often expensive given flood plain field positioning. Fortunately, fundraising for many youth sports associations is a well-worn path allowing flood relief campaigns to be launched quickly. Fundraising sites like GoFundMe.com and MobileCause.com make setting up a donation capture system quick and simple.
Online sports websites and registration systems such a Engage Sports, can also come to the rescue by serving as awareness building tools, news centers, flood photo galleries, and youth sports donation collection sites. Compounding the fundraising process is the fact that so many in the same area are often struggling with their own recovery efforts, so there is tremendous need with outreach being made by multiple organizations.
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"Effective Management Strategies for Youth Sports Leaders"
They Need Your Help!
If you live or work in an area that has been hit hard by flood waters and are a fan of youth sports, please reach out to sports associations in the area that are seeking assistance. Help boost their sports fundraising efforts by making a personal or corporate donation, posting their youth sports fundraising sites on your social media networks, and any other means that you have at your disposal.