Iroquois Comes Back From The Storm
The Iroquois Yacht Club, established in 1894 and incorporated in 1914, is being rebuilt and getting ready to reopen this summer.
During Hurricane Sandy, now almost a year and half ago, the structure was battered by high winds and crashing waters from Jamaica Bay.
“We took on five plus feet of water,” the Iroquois’ Eddie Wright said, pointing to the water line on an inside wall.
Coming by boat the next day, he measured another spot where the water rose to six feet.
Documenting the damage and also the progress made, he showed photos and talked about windows being smashed in, a wall being blown out, floors being ripped up and outside decks being twisted off and carried away.
Everything inside the club was tossed about. They lost their entire electrical system and the compressors for their walk-in refrigerators. Outside canopy roofs were ripped off and an outside bar area was filled to the roof with marsh grass.
But standing inside the building, where added rooms and older walls show the history of the building, Wright said, “we were working on it from November, 2012.”
Members also built a new wooden boardwalk to replace the one that was ripped up by the storm and was the only land access to the club and the several houses out on the bay.
But they did not have to shoulder the whole task alone. J&B Home Improvements has been donating needed supplies and also lending its hands.
Bershad noted, “We sponsor the Little League and the BCAC also. Now we’re trying to help the Iroquois not only get back up, but come back bigger & better.”
“A lot of people have a lot to do,” Bershad, whose own neighborhood of Howard Beach was flooded, said. “Even just down to getting their houses back together. There’s a lot to do.”
Hardworking Iroquois Club volunteers began the job of clearing the debris, stripping down walls and floors and starting the rebuilding theselves. They soon had help from J&B.
Bershad said, “It started with windows and doors we had and donated to the Club.”
Still in mid-construction, the building now sports brand new siding which Bershad and his crew worked to put in. They also made sure everything underneath was repaired and heavily reinforced against future storms.
“Now it’s all structurally sound and sealed up and weather proofed,” Bershad pointed out.
As work progresses, the driving goal is to open for this year’s boating season.
“We’re looking toward a big opening day on July 12, with a big party,” Wright said. “We’ll all be here in our ‘whites’- white shirt and white slacks,” which he explains is the traditional summer boating attire.
He adds that this is where the tradition of ‘not wearing white after Labor Day,’ or more accurately after the boating season, comes from.
Wright says, “We’ll also be setting off the cannon,” indicating a long held tradition that has survived the storm.
Originally, he noted, the building the Iroquois occupies, which stretches out over Jamaica Bay, belonged to a boat builder. “We saw parts of the floor supports were made from old keels.”
He noted that “you can sit out on a warm summer night with your fishing pole. At half-tide you can walk around the place and pick up blue claw crabs.”
“We’re also family friendly,” Wright added, “we have blow up pools and slides for the kids.”
Looking over the mostly finished back deck of the yacht club, Bershad, who has brought his own children and now will bring his grandson there, commented, “It’s a whole small town feel. You definitely have that here.
“To me,” he said, “it was important to keep that going.”