70-year-old Darlings Island community club may never recover from flood damage

Linda Dodge Anderson surveyed on Wednesday the damage inflicted by the Hammond River and nearby waterways on the 70-year-old Nauwigewauk Community Club. "Who could attempt to gut this place and start over?” she asked.

Nauwigewauk Community Club was once a vibrant hub for community groups and special events

Linda Dodge Anderson fears the flood-damaged Nauwigewauk Community Club is beyond repair. (Roger Cosman/CBC)

Linda Dodge Anderson surveyed the damage inflicted by the Hammond River and nearby waterways on the 70-year-old Nauwigewauk Community Club.

"It's just overwhelming really," she said Wednesday, walking over the warped wooden floors.

"Who could attempt to gut this place and start over?"

Anderson, who sits on the 10-member executive committee responsible for the club, only got into the building Tuesday night after the water receded.

The Nauwigewauk Community Club, a meeting place over the years for girl guides, scouts, Brownies, and card players and the scene of weddings and other events, was severely damaged. (Roger Cosman/CBC)

The power is out and won't be restored until all the electrical components have been replaced.

The kitchen will likely need to be stripped, the drywall torn out, and the dehumidifier system is broken.

"We don't have the money," Anderson said with regret.

"It could be the end."

Family connection

Anderson has a long connection to the club. Her grandfather was the first president and her father helped build the hall.

It used to be a vibrant meeting place for Brownies, girl guides and scouts, she said.

It also hosted birthday parties, family reunions, card nights and a yearly fair.  

Linda Dodge Anderson stands inside the wrecked kitchen of the Nauwigewauk Community Club on Darlings Island Road. (Roger Cosman/CBC)

Anderson held her own wedding here and so did her grown children.

But declining demand for the space, she said, will likely affect the decision on what to do next.

Raising the road

The dilemma is compounded by uncertainty over a new design for the road.

The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure said it's negotiating with three nearby homeowners to purchase their property to complete the project of raising Darlings Island Road, which was cut off by floodwater for 14 days by the recent flood.

However, no final plans have been released.

Anderson said it's not clear how it could encroach on the parking lot or the centre itself.

The view of Darlings Island Road on May 2, 2018. (Jim Carroll)

Even though the club's land sits on a floodplain and floods every year, the committee did invest in recent upgrades, including new heat pumps, doors and windows. Neighbours raised money for a defibrillator, still sitting high on a wall. The main assembly room was just painted last month.

"It's sad," said Anderson.

She said it would be good to have a public meeting to gauge opinion on what to do next.

"But where would we hold it?" she asked. "Maybe in Hampton."