Rich Suhs was last inside the indoor aquatic center he’s owned for 11 years on Tuesday, checking chlorine levels in the two swimming pools where thousands of young girls and boys first learned how to swim.
“I figured we would lose power at some point,” said Suhs, who is affectionately known as “Coach Rich,” and who has owned and operated the Eastern Shore Aquatic Center on Baldwin County Route 64 since 2009. “Everything was fine when I left.”
And then Hurricane Sally arrived, overturning Suhs’ livelihood with its intense rainfall and powerful and sustained wind gusts that registered 105 mph. The aquatic center was destroyed, leaving Suhs with a giant mess to clean up and no insurance to rebuild.
“It was a self-financing deal,” said Suhs, who purchased the building from another swim coach, Terry Martin. The aquatic center was built in 1997, and had survived previous powerful hurricanes – Ivan in 2004, and Katrina in 2005.
“I tried to get insurance on it, but it was just cost prohibitive,” said Suhs. He said he still had one more year of payments on the facility. “I thought, ‘well, I’ll take my luck.’ My luck ran out.”Read Advance Local