North Bay baseball field soggy with flood water
SEBASTOPOL, Calif. (KTVU) - Among the casualties of Sonoma County's floods is a Little League facility that took hits to its field and its food.
Opening day is March 30, and Sebastopol players and coaches are dealing with some uncertainty.
Clahan Field isn't just damp from recent storm, it had had 10 feet of water on it for more than 24 hours.
Thursday evening, coaches and players couldn't help but notice the spongy grass and deep mud ruts.
"There are holes you can step in, it's really mushy," said player Zachary Munoz, 13, scraping a muddy cleat on the infield.
Last week, the two diamonds at the park were 10 feet under water.
Heavy rain overwhelmed the watershed next door and it flowed over the fence tops, flooding low-lying Morris Street and the surrounding area.
For a few days, kayakers could round the bases, and when the water receded, debris was strewn everywhere, even a telephone pole perched in the bleachers.
"It's still squishy, " said League President Lou Castleberry, testing the turf, "but we'll get the season kicked off. It would have been nice if wasn't 26 days before the start, but we'll make it work."
The biggest loss is the cinder block snack shack, which is the league's main fundraiser
Food, the refrigerator, and the freezer were all moved out beforehand, along with some small appliances.
But big bulky items, such as the the beverage case, the drink dispenser, and ice machine, were upended in the water, and are ruined.
A storage shed also flooded, with some contents salvageable, but much of the surplus waterlogged.
"It's soaked," said Snack Shack Manager Joan Holden, picking up a still-dripping mitt from the trash pile. "It was a mess, really a mess."
Now the shack is red-tagged.
Because it's a public park, the City of Sebastopol shoulders the repairs,
But testing for contaminants, meeting codes, and taking bids will take time, so there is a backup plan to feed hungry players and fans.
"We pulled BBQs out and they're stored in somebody's barn, along with our freezer and refrigerator," said Holden. "We'll just bar-b-que our stuff, set up tables outside, it will be like a picnic."
The larger of two diamonds is also used by freshman and junior varsity players from Analy High School.
As they came to their first practice of the season, they were careful not to tear up the terrain even more.
"We stayed off the grass, we did ground balls on the dirt," said coach Alex Wilson, "and the outfield is better, but when we have half a field, it's hard to have a super-productive practice."
Grass will grow, but Little League will now try to raise $30,000 to refurbish the snack bar for food service.
"There's still a lot of people who played on the original 1957 team who are Sebastopolians," said President Castleberry, noting that the league is sixty years old and has tremendous community support. "It's springtime, it's time to play some baseball and it would be nice if it stops raining and we get to do that."
Donations can be made at any Redwood Credit Union using the account digits: 604395. A Venmo account has also been established, with the email: email@example.com