Hurricane Irma storm surge leaves boats on football field at Ransom Everglades

Plenty of footballs and soccer balls have been kicked into the water over the years from Ransom Everglades’ field.

As Hurricane Irma ravaged South Florida this past Sunday, something much larger was deposited from the sea.

Storm surge from Irma caused three boats moored in nearby Dinner Key Marina to wash up onto Ransom’s football field located adjacent to the waters off Biscayne Bay.

The edge of the field was only two feet above the water on high tide according to Ransom Everglades athletic director Andy de Angulo.

The storm surge reached somewhere between three and six feet on Sunday.

For decades the field has been a unique setting and an iconic staple of the Coconut Grove private school’s athletic facilities.

But as school officials continued to assess the damage Tuesday, one of the boats which measured roughly 35-feet long, rested only a few steps away from the goal post on the near side of the field adjacent to the rest of the campus.

Two more were lying at the other end of the field closer to the water.

The football field itself was left in ruins.

“My thinking is we’ll probably need to start from scratch,” de Angulo said. “The whole east end zone is inside out and covered with rocks and debris. Everything was insured luckily.”

De Angulo said up to six boats overall washed up on the property owned by the school located around the field. He said local police have reached out to the owners of the boats and been given a timeframe for removal.

That could prove difficult, however.

“It’s in a difficult spot to reach even with a crane,” de Angulo said. “If they can’t, they may have to cut it up into pieces and haul it out. We’re looking at options this week.”

Ransom remained closed on Tuesday, and de Angulo said it likely would not resume classes until next week assuming electrical power has been restored and students can begin commuting safely to and from the campus.

The rest of the campus did not suffer any major damage according to de Angulo, but there were a few other issues.

The first floor of its gym, which housed its weight room and some of the school’s sailing team’s vessels and is located at the edge of the football field, flooded when the storm surge waters flowed in. The second floor was not damaged.

Mud and rocks covered parts of its tennis courts located on the other side of the gym, but at the same elevation as the football field.

A few roof panels blown off from the school’s buildings landed in the school’s Olympic-sized swimming pool.

But the pool itself, which has hosted the state water polo championships for the past five years as well as several major aquatic events, escaped any noticeable damage.

The field appears to be a total loss.

The mangrove trees lining one of the sides of the field suffered damage from Irma’s heavy winds which created an opening for more of the storm surge to get through.

For over half a century, Ransom students brought extra balls to games knowing many may be lost in the waters off the bay. Many years ago, students even went out on rowboats or canoes to retrieve them in the water.

But after this incident, de Angulo thinks the school may look into either installing some sort of protective wall behind the end zone facing the bay or perhaps elevating the field much higher than it was.

“We have a crew coming out Thursday to look at it and see what plan we can come up with,” de Angulo said. “We’re looking at some options that would increase safety in the future.”