Photo/Nelsonville Division of Fire

Flood Damaged Ballpark Restored – But Not For Long

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“The Mud Lot League” – that’s what one Nelsonville Little League athlete calls the waterlogged baseball diamonds of Polley Field Park; they’re unplayable.

Photo/Connor Kurek.

Saturday, almost 100 people responded to a Facebook comment by league mother Summer Willis asking for help to restore the fields.

Willis, and James “Hootie” Wend, the park’s owner, sent a distress signal: All hands on deck – to repair the park after the worst flooding Nelsonville had seen in years.

Graphic by Connor Kurek

And Monday, after hours of hard work and repairs to Polley over the weekend, Little League practice remained delayed at least another week because of a full day of heavy rain on Sunday.

The Hocking River peaked over the flood barriers at Polley Field Park once again Sunday night. Photo/Nelsonville Division of Fire.
The flooding as of Monday morning at Polley Park. Photo/Nelsonville Division of Fire.

But that didn’t diminish the quality of the jobs by the Nelsonville Fire Department, volunteer firefighters, coaches and their families, moms, dads and the young athletes.

Parent and a church-youth leader Dan Cavinee said he’s not surprised by the response.

“The community of Nelsonville is a really tight knit community,” he said. “Whenever something like this is put on social media or something like that, people always come together and really put together a team effort to get something like this taken care of.”

Photo/Connor Kurek.

The fields were unrecognizable the first time the Hocking River spilled over the two-foot flood barriers more than a week ago.

The aftermath left the parking lot looking like a desert: Dust and dirt blew through the air and piles of debris littered the vacant spaces.

“It’s always flooded because we’re in a natural flood plain,” Little League Coach Rick Herzog said. “I’ve never seen it that bad before. It was right underneath the crossbar on the football goal post, so we knew that it was going to be devastating. We had no idea how devastating ’till we got down here.”

Photo/Connor Kurek.

The park’s fences were destroyed.

Some fence posts were lifted out of the ground and the rest of the fencing that lined the park was matted with leaves, tree limbs and other debris.

By noon on Saturday, the first 80-degree day of the year, Cavinee, Herzog and their families were drenched in sweat and covered in dirt.

Photo/Connor Kurek.
Photo/Connor Kurek.

Much of the work was completed by hand, while machinery did the extra-heavy lifting: ATVs carried debris, a tractor groomed the diamond, firefighters sprayed down the parking lot and pavilions, and bobcats scooped up excess dirt.

And another flood won’t keep Nelsonville from its springtime ball games for too long: Herzog said resilience is the reason this community shines.

Photo/Connor Kurek.

“We’re fortunate. We have enough people,” he said. “We have the resources and we’re going to make it work this year.”

One of Polley Park’s dugouts. Photo/Connor Kurek.

“We’re going to let the kids keep doing what they love doing: which is play baseball.”

Photo/Connor Kurek.