It turns out there was a silver lining to the Sherman Boys & Girls Club gymnasium roof collapse, caused by last December’s ice storm — quite literally, in fact. The gym’s silver, aluminum lining now lies in a twisted pile among scraps of siding and hills of broken cinder blocks.

It turns out there was a silver lining to the Sherman Boys & Girls Club gymnasium roof collapse, caused by last December’s ice storm — quite literally, in fact. The gym’s silver, aluminum lining now lies in a twisted pile among scraps of siding and hills of broken cinder blocks.


As construction crews worked Thursday to dismantle the few remaining I-beans where the gym once stood, Club Director Mike Delong surveyed the destruction. A space recently filled with children’s laughter and dribbling basketballs was instead dominated by the sound of hammers assaulting steel and the back-up-beep of a front-end loader. A worker ashed his cigarette near half court.


"The structural engineers determined that it all had to come down," said Delong. "And as you get into this and you see the (structure) and the beams and stuff, you can see how twisted they were all throughout the gym."


The tons of ice that folded the gym roof like an accordion have long since disappeared, but the damage they caused remains. Delong said the Club was fortunate that the roof collapse was contained to the gymnasium.


"This gym here was kind of separate in terms of it just flashed into this wall, so it was sort of a separate foundation for that, which was good," he explained. "The rest of the facility was sound, even though there was some collateral damage that’s going to have to be addressed with the roof, the flooring inside."


The Club has been operating out of an axillary building at Fairview Baptist Church since the storm, and Delong said the temporary digs have worked out surprisingly well.


"It’s working out great, actually. The Fairview Baptist Church and their group have been so kind to us. I was actually more worried about where we were gonna go than I was whether the roof came the rest of the way down. So we’re very, very thankful to those people, they’ve been more than generous. They’ve gone out of their way to make us feel welcome there, and their facility is working out great for us."


After selecting a contractor for the gym rebuild next week, Delong said he expects things to move quickly, hopefully finishing by late summer. The Club will remain at Fairview until the new facility is complete.


"We’re not worried about the kids who would be in the building while we’re (rebuilding), but it’s just another liability that we don’t need to take," said Delong. "We’ve got a lot of equipment that’s been moved into the existing facility for storage, and we’re going to move in when it’s all said and done — nice and shiny and ready to go."


Club organizers said community generosity has provided ample support, but indirect costs remain.


"We’ve had a couple of local foundations support us," said Delong. "We have our insurance deductible covered, but as you get into it, you realize there’s just a lot more that goes into it. When you have to demolish a part and then rebuild, some things just don’t match with your existing, so that’s where we hope to get some additional financial support come in."


As for the silver lining — metaphorically speaking this time — Delong said the tragedy has provided some perspective for him and others in charge.


"I can’t tell you how many parents that we had … the very first day we were in (Fairview); we had eight or ten parents come in and say, ‘You don’t know how much anxiety we had, wondering if we were going to have a place to send our kids,’" said Delong. "When you’re faced with not being able to operate, and there not being a Boys & Girls Club in the community for the kids and for the parents, what are the options, you know? So the good part that’s come from it is that we realize more than ever how important it is that we’re able to exist in this community."