NAUGATUCK — Since taking over as head football coach in the Fall of 2019, Hady Ford’s motto for the Tug Valley Football program has been #ValleyStrong.
That motto rings true now more than ever as the TVHS coaching staff, players, administration, and other volunteers have had to pull up their sleeves and begin cleanup and assessing damages after the Carl Parsley Jr. Athletic Complex and Bob Brewer Stadium took on high waters from the March 1 flood.
The Carl Parsley Jr. complex was just recently built in 2016 and houses the home and away locker rooms, referee locker rooms, the coaching offices, and equipment rooms for the TVHS football and soccer teams.
“We’ve lost nearly everything. We’ve had our lockers destroyed, our training tables are soaked in flood mud and unsanitary, all three sets of our uniforms, our brand new headsets, knee pads, some of the shoulder pads, really almost all of our equipment,” Ford said while assessing some of the damages on Wednesday. “The only thing game wise that wasn’t affected was out helmets and that’s because I just sent them off Monday to be refurbished. We are still going through a lot of stuff and seeing if it can be used, but it looks like most of it will be a total loss.”
Ford said that to equip a single player at the high school level with a full set of uniforms and equipment is usually around $1,000 to $1,200 and he estimates they lost around 50 full sets of equipment.
Aside from the equipment, several other items in the building such as a brand new ice machine, a washer and dryer, and nearly all of the equipment in the concession stand is believed to be destroyed.
“I would have never thought that it would have done this much damage,” Ford said. “The water tanks were laying on the ground flipped over. There were washers and dryers laying on top of things. I would have never believed that standing water could do that much damage, it was like a tornado was in there.”
Tug Valley Principal Dr. Doug Ward has a long history at Tug Valley High School as he served as the head football coach from 2002-2004 and Principal since 2017. While he says he has seen water from Pigeon Creek backed up from the Tug River spill onto the field before, he said he has never seen it get that high and stay that high for that long of a time.
“I’ve never seen the water get that high and stay that high for that long,” Ward said. “It came quickly and its like it stayed around longer. Because we’ve had river levels at higher amounts and not had this damage. So is it backwater? Is it because the ground is saturated? It’s something, because I thought it stayed around longer this time. Usually it just comes in and does a little damage and then goes right back out.
Ward, Athletic Director Clyde Farley, was on hand assisting the coaching staff with the cleanup on Wednesday and said he has been collaborating with the Mingo County Schools central office to get the proper assistance moving forward.
“We’ve had a collaborative effort so far from the central office, the school, and the community,” Dr. Ward said. “What we’ve got to do to start with is get rid of the things that are a problem, get rid of all the bad. And our school district will take care of what needs to be taken care of and hopefully we could come into some FEMA money with the Governor’s emergency declaration and that should help with some things.”
Ward said that along with Bob Brewer Stadium, that the brand new Tug Valley softball and baseball fields were also under water but that they were lucky and the fields were able to escape major damage.
“I think we were luckier than we thought we were going to be with the baseball and softball fields in particular, because they’ve got games coming up here soon,” Ward said. “With those facilities we’ve got to get some things cleaned up and sanitized but there’s already a concerted effort being put forth to get the help we need. And we’re going to get it, our district is going to get it done.”
Ward said that he is hopeful if the weather cooperates that none of the home softball games or baseball games, which would be slated to begin in April, would have to be postponed but that it was really still to early to tell.
Coach Ford said that he is thankful that the flood occurred when it did because they have ample time to rebuild and get ready for the season. He said had it happened closer to August that they would be scrambling to get the new equipment in time.
“This is one of those tough licks to take but whatever comes at you in life you just learn to be tough through it. And we’ll get through this, it will be tough and take some hard work, but we will overcome” Ford said.