“The Hole” is now a reflecting pool.
A mere six weeks after Hurricane Laura ravaged the McNeese State athletic facilities, Hurricane Delta came through and brought more damage — this time in the form of heavy rain. From Friday through Saturday, Hurricane Delta dumped 15 inches of rain over the greater Lake Charles area.
Five days after the storm made landfall, nearly three feet of debris-filled water remains inside Cowboy Stadium.
“It took on a lot of water,” McNeese Interim Athletic Director Heath Schroyer said. “A couple feet of water. Obviously, right now our priority is working at getting everything assessed and then pump the water out of there.”
The removal of the water though could take some time — mainly due to the process of filing insurance claims.
“Like everyone else here in our area, we are dealing with insurance,” Schroyer said. “In our particular case we are dealing with both insurance and FEMA.”
Schroyer says that the stadium’s GEOMAX2 artificial turf (which was installed in 2008) will need to be replaced before the team kicks off its season on February 27th against Incarnate Word.
“We are anticipating playing on the football field for the spring season,” Schroyer said. “We are committed to having football in the spring.”
The timing of the new damage couldn’t have come at a worse time.
With only six weeks removed from Laura, the athletic department was still finishing the assessment of the damage and cleaning up from the first storm before the needed repairs could begin. In fact, many of the facilities had temporary roofs still on them.
“It has obviously put us back a little bit,” Schroyer said.
Cowboy Stadium wasn’t the only facility impacted by Delta’s destructive rains.
The H&HP Complex, the 145,000 square-foot facility that hosts the women and men’s basketball teams and volleyball teams, was damaged as well as it took on water.
“We are in the process of drying that building out,” Schroyer said. “We are dealing with insurance. Nothing moves as fast as you want it to move.”
The McNeese volleyball team will have to play at a different facility in the spring. Schroyer, who also serves as the men’s basketball coach, says that the athletic department is finalizing having the teams play at Burton Coliseum — the former longtime home for both.
The McNeese State basketball programs are currently split in Lafayette and Baton Rouge.
The women’s team is staying on LSU’s campus while practicing at nearby junior colleges and high schools. The men’s team meanwhile is staying in the dorms at Louisiana-Lafayette and practicing at the Ragin’ Cajun gym.
The student-athletes being forced to live, study and practice elsewhere is something that Schroyer says they want to change quickly.
“We are actively working with the state and FEMA to put up temporary housing for our student athletes,” Schroyer said. “The apartments were destroyed and dorms are currently not habitable. We are trying to get our athletes back as soon as we can but we have to make it safe to do.”
For anyone interested in helping with the athletic department and university’s recovery efforts from Laura and Delta, Schroyer asks for those people to simply visit www.mcneesefoundation.org
Despite the setback from Delta, Schroyer is confident and positive that Cowboy athletics will come back stronger.
“I truly couldn’t be more proud of our university and community,” Schroyer said. “We keep putting on our boots, hard hats and getting to work. There is no doubt we will get back and bigger than before.”
He added, “There are brighter days ahead. McNeese State athletics is not going anywhere.”