Bridgewater, NJ floods recede, Somerset Patriots play ball again
BRIDGEWATER — The water's gone and it's back to baseball at TD Bank Ballpark, home of the Somerset Patriots, after heavy rains during Ida submerged the entire field and more with muddy water.
The team was on the road in Bowie, Maryland, on Wednesday when remnants of the tropical storm dropped 8 inches of rain on that section of the township.
"That area of Somerset County was one of New Jersey's rainfall bullseyes from Ida," NJ 101.5 Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow said. "The proximity of the Middle Brook and Raritan River to the ballpark contributed largely to the severity of the flooding there."
The Patriots were supposed to return home for a series this week with the Hartford Yardgoats, but moved the series to that team's ballpark in Connecticut.
Somerset, which is a minor league affiliate of the New York Yankees, next plays at home on Friday.
Draining the ballpark
Team president and general manger Patrick McVerry credited the grounds crew led by Dan Purner for drying out the park within a week of the flood.
Although a seemingly Herculean task to clean up, the law of physics was also at play.
"It has to do with water coming in and receding essentially. The water finds its way in and miraculously finds its way back out. It took about 24 hours, maybe a little bit more, for the water to come into the ballpark and then exit. By Friday we were pretty much water free and already started working on the cleanup," McVerry told New Jersey 101.5.
The field took the most water since its at ground level and the outfield wall suffered the most damage.
"We lost equipment, golf carts, small refrigerators in offices, air conditioners and hot water heaters. As you compare it to our local community we feel very fortunate," McVerry said.
"We know the towns surrounding this ballpark took a beating. That's one of the reasons we want to open up just to give some hope. We're resilient like the people of Central New Jersey."
Planning a fundraiser for their fans
The team is in the process of putting together a fundraiser to benefit local residents affected Ida's heavy rains.
Patriots vice president of media relations, Marc Russinoff, is collecting items from major and minor league teams and Broadway to collect item for an auction.
Also lost in the flood were 15 vehicles belonging to players and coaches parked at their home facility, while the team was on the road.
"They took quite a bit of water, in most cases it was over the top of the cars. We're working with the Yankees to make sure the players are taken care of," while the players deal with their individual insurance companies.
At this point in the season, the team is making a run at the Atlantic League playoffs.
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Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ