Rich Suhs was last inside the indoor aquatic center heâ€™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.
â€œI figured we would lose power at some point,â€ said Suhs, who is affectionately known as â€œCoach Rich,â€ and who has owned and operated theÂ Eastern Shore Aquatic CenterÂ on Baldwin County Route 64 since 2009. â€œEverything was fine when I left.â€
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.
â€œIt was a self-financing deal,â€ 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 â€“ Ivan in 2004, and Katrina in 2005.
â€œI tried to get insurance on it, but it was just cost prohibitive,â€ said Suhs. He said he still had one more year of payments on the facility. â€œI thought, â€˜well, Iâ€™ll take my luck.â€™ My luck ran out.â€Read Advance Local
â€˜Coach Richâ€™ vows to rebuild aquatic center after Hurricane Sally destroyed it