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Monday, August 8, 2022

The video of a flooded stadium went viral, but the home team refused to give up

Flood mitigation measures have been in place for some time in and around the stadium. As a result of Hurricane Floyd, which destroyed Bound Brook’s downtown in 1999, the United States Army Corps of Engineers constructed infrastructure – detention reservoirs, levee system upgrades and pumping stations — to prevent such catastrophic flooding from occurring again.

Those plans, however, came crashing down about 9:30 p.m. on September 1. An emergency floodgate in Bound Brook was unable to be opened because New Jersey Transit train 5451 had been stuck on its track. Kevin Finnegan, a special-needs employee who works in stadium maintenance in Bridgewater, was at home with his parents when one of the walls in the family’s basement collapsed as a result of the storm. The water reached the second-floor stairwell, and the family was forced to abandon both of their cars. Their home has become uninhabitable.

After that, there was a sense of relief. To help players and staff with insurance claims, rental vehicles and financial support, the Yankees’ Kevin Reese and Nick Avanzato, both of whom work for the franchise’s minor league operations, travelled in from their home base of Tampa, Fla. A GoFundMe campaign was launched in support of the Finnegans, and Chuck Hodgdon, owner of Stadium Graphics, travelled from New Hampshire to assist in putting the outfield wall back together again. Interns and executives worked alongside caterers and a construction team that had already been on site doing repairs when the project began.

To guarantee that muck would not smother the grass, everything was power cleaned, even the grass. Each seat was first hosed down, then hand cleaned and hosed down a second time to ensure thorough cleaning. Purner and his team double-checked the field to ensure that there were no soft areas before putting it into play. We had to purchase new resin bags, which pitchers are permitted to use during games for greater grip on hot evenings since the old ones were all wet, which was one of the final tasks before the game. Purner reverted to his usual sobs before the start of the game on Friday, nine nights after Ida paid him a surprise visit.

It wasn’t until the late innings that a musty stench began to permeate the bleachers as the wind shifted direction and the floodwaters began to recede. In a pre-game announcement before the ninth inning, the public address announcer said that there would be no fireworks after the game since the launch location had been rendered inaccessible by the storm. When outfielder Michael Beltre hit a two-run double down the left-field line in the bottom of the 12th inning, his Patriots teammates rushed from the home dugout to surround him at second base, and the game was over. Three players each brought their own coolers, which they used to saturate Beltre and the field with cold water.

Dan O'Brien
I am a journalist for The National Era with an emphasis in sports.
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