Program staffer Eddy Kolakovic helps students with their homework on the first floor of The Boys and Girls Club of Lodi.
Program staffer Eddy Kolakovic helps students with their homework on the first floor of The Boys and Girls Club of Lodi.
Posted: Wednesday November 16, 2011, 9:41 AM
Reopening: Lodi Boys and Girls Club reopens after storm damage
By KIM LUEDDEKE of The Record

The freshly-painted and renovated Boys and Girls Club buzzed with activity Tuesday, a little more than two months after floodwaters destroyed much of the building’s basement and first floor.

The club, located on the banks of the Saddle River, sustained serious damage from flooding caused by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. But after extensive repairs, children were allowed to return for the first time last week. The pool re-opened Monday, the club’s executive assistant Joseph Licata said.

“The children depend on this place…They (the club’s staff) have worked like dogs (to repair the building), mainly for the children,” said Kathy Cook, a public affairs specialist for the U.S Small Business Administration.

On Tuesday, several officials from the SBA toured the club in an effort to highlight the aid the agency has provided to New Jerseyans hurt by this summer’s devastating storms and flooding.

As of Monday, the SBA had approved 2,106 low-interest loans totaling more than $82 million for New Jersey homeowners, renters, businesses and non-profits, Cook said. The deadline to apply for loans through the SBA is Nov. 30.

The Lodi club has already been approved for an $833,000 loan, Cook said.

“It was a godsend,” said the club’s executive director, Michael Nardino.

Also in attendance Tuesday was Barry O’Donovan, owner of the Kilkenny House restaurant in Cranford. O’Donovan said his restaurant sustained about $300,000 in damage. The SBA approved a $262,400 loan for him, said Cook.

The Lodi club’s building is no stranger to flooding, Nardino said. But this summer’s floods were particularly punishing.

After the flooding, the club had to relocate youth activities for more than two months to two local schools, Nardino said.

More than 20 feet of water came into the building at one point during the flooding, said Nardino, destroying floors, walls and ceilings as it poured in. The club’s pool was filled with sewage, mud covered the first floor and furniture and equipment was ruined. Nardino estimated the total cost of the damage around $850,000.

The club’s insurance company agreed to pay out $571,000, which has been used to pay for the repairs done up to this point, he said.

Renovations inside the building are 90 to 95 percent done, Licata said. Club officials are hoping to use the SBA loan money to begin repairs outside, including some damage that was caused by previous flooding. Those repairs include new roofing for the building, renovations to the parking lot and sidewalks and an elevation of the building’s electrical transformers above the flood line, Licata said.

In addition to federal and insurance funds, several benefits have also been held on the club’s behalf and community groups have donated money, time and materials to help get the club back on its feet, Nardino said.

“They (community members) realize that the work that we do is noble,” he said.

  • The Harrington Park Sports Boosters will donate a portion of their proceeds from this Saturday’s annual 5-kilometer run/walk to the Boys and Girls Club of Lodi.
  • The race will begin at 10 a.m. at Harrington Park Borough Hall, 85 Harriot Avenue. A kiddie dash will also be held at 9:15 a.m. for children aged eight years old and younger.
  • Registration will begin at 8 a.m.
  • For more information, contact Scott Litchfield at (201) 913-6275 or scottlitchfield1@gmail.com.

E-mail: lueddeke@northjersey.com