Last year was full of flooding and fortitude for Tiffin Community YMCA.
A year ago Monday, 200 people, including members and non-members, volunteered their time to help YMCA recover from a flood that left several inches of water in the building. Then, less than six months later, YMCA was hit by water again.
The office of CEO Steven Crone has several reminders of flooding.
PHOTO COURTESY YMCA
Right, people play on an inflatable toy in Tiffin Community YMCA’s pool.
Near his desk, he has a pair of boots he bought when the parking lot flooded three years ago, and he also has a change of clothing at YMCA.
A table made out of the old gymnasium floor was delivered to YMCA Feb. 28, the one-year anniversary of the 2011 flooding.
"(It's) really nice," he said.
Crone refers to the weekend a year ago as the "perfect storm." The area had a heavy snowfall and cold temperatures followed by warmer temperatures and rain for 12 hours.
He recalled agreeing to teach a 5 a.m. class Feb. 28, 2011, for a teacher who was on vacation. At the start of the class, the water still was in Rock Creek's banks. A person went running into the field house just before class was about to end to tell Crone water was in the parking lot.
Crone ended the class early, ran to the front desk and learned water had surrounded the building.
"By 6 a.m., we were clearing the building," he said.
People raised the treadmills to a 15-degree incline and unplugged electrical devices before water got inside.
Crone said those who remained at the building could not place sand bags fast enough. By 7 a.m., the water was entering the facility through the doors.
"It was that quick," he said.
Crone said it almost was surreal to see the water enter the building.
He turned down a hallway, and at the same time, water had turned out of the lobby area and headed down the same hallway. As he walked toward the water, the water was creeping down the hallway toward him.
"You just don't expect something to happen that quickly," he said.
Water in the building measured several inches, and Crone estimated it stayed in the building for 18 hours before retreating and leaving behind mud.
YMCA was closed for about two weeks following the flooding, but its operations continued.
Karate instruction moved to Heidelberg University, classes relocated to St. Paul United Methodist Church and The Ritz Theatre, and swimmers could go to other area YMCAs.
Volunteers came together to help clean equipment and set up equipment on the tennis court March 12.
The field house became YMCA for a few months while repairs were made to the pool, the pool tiles were replaced and the fitness center was redecorated.
The pool stayed closed until early August.
The gymnasium floor had to be reinstalled, but was destroyed and replaced again after flooding in July.
Crone said if there was a great part about going through the flooding, it was seeing what YMCA meant to people over the years. He said he always felt the facility existed to help strengthen the community.
But, during the flooding recovery, the exact opposite happened, and the community was helping to strengthen YMCA, he said.
Crone said after the water receded, what impressed him the most was seeing YMCA's place in the hearts of the community. Everyone came together to support the facility, he said.
"We never missed a beat," he said.
Crone said YMCA was made stronger by going through the recovery process, and officials are more prepared.
Since the flooding, the facility has doubled its number of sand bags. Officials are exploring technology, such as gates, to protect the building from flooding.
Crone said they have found the building is sound structurally and water enters through the doorways.
Also, a conversation about flooding prevention continues with neighbors at Heidelberg, which also suffered flooding, and city and county officials. There is discussion about beginning to explore creek evaluation and what may have taken place, he said.
Crone said the focus is on prevention, not moving YMCA. YMCA's board of trustees is committed to the facility's location, he said.
"(It's a) great location," he said.
YMCA has added various programs since the flooding a year ago.
Crone said it has seen growth in its teenage and youth programming. The facility offers teen nights, which include swimming and activities, Wednesdays and has developed a leadership club.
The Leadership Opportunities For Teens program, he said, is beginning to identify community projects to work on, and one is an intergenerational program.
"That continues into the spring cleanup," he said.
Also, YMCA has started "Kindermusik," which Crone said includes music- and play-based learning activities geared toward 2- and 3-year-old children.
Six families are involved in the program, he said.
"That's a parent-child interactive music program," he said.
YMCA offers Inflatable Fridays, and more than 150 people participate. Crone compared it to the show "Wipeout" and said three inflatables are joined and placed in the pool. The program offers a "dive-in" movie for people to watch in the pool, and people can snack on popcorn.
Other activities that have been added include pickleball, a euchre club and a TRX buddy suspension system for strength workouts. Arts programs are expanding, and YMCA is to host a regional gymnastics competition for 600 gymnasts next month.
YMCA also has started partnerships with Heidelberg to assist with programming in Saurwein Health & Wellness Center and with Seneca East Local School District.
Crone said YMCA is going to start a youth sports program at Seneca East in the next few weeks.
YMCA staff is to teach classes 5-7:30 a.m. before school and 5-9 p.m. after school. YMCA members can use Seneca East's fitness center, and non-members can enroll in youth sports programs, he said.
Also, YMCA is to offer summer camps as part of the partnership.
"That's a great partnership," he said.
Crone said YMCA has more members than ever and continues to grow. As of Tuesday, about 1,900 households, or 4,000 people, and 1,000 college students were members of YMCA.
In three years, the number of households that have joined YMCA has grown by more than 600.
"That's great growth," he said.