Operations at Huntsville Fire Station No. 2 are close to being back to normal. Firefighters have not used the station on Sam Houston Avenue since a storm last April flooded the building with up to three inches of rain. Just as Huntsville assistant fire chief John Hobbs said last week, water and Sheetrock don’t mix.
The flood caused enough damage to prompt the City Council to approve $150,000 in restoration funds to get the fire department back on its feet.
A mobile home park sits behind the station on higher ground where a small retention pond is supposed to collect water. Between a suspected overflow of the retention pond and drainage issues, the fire station experienced its worst water damage in decades. Fire department officials said the station has experienced water damage dating back to the 1970s and ‘80s, but never a flood quite like the most recent one that caused mold and asbestos to develop. In the 1990s, there was a concrete water trough built to help divert water toward the U.S. Army Reserve Center, which sends the water through a pipe and eventually dumps onto Sam Houston Avenue. Since the flood last year, a two-foot wall was built around the retention pond to help do the same thing. The station’s ground level is now three feet higher and sandbags have been carefully placed in the area as well.
“Over the years (the retention pond) has filled in, so it’s useless,” Hobbs said. “When it rained, the water would come down the hill and then it would pile up. Our drain wasn’t big enough at the time. We had five inches of rain in this particular area of Huntsville. So we started doing measures to raise some doors and enhance the drainage with the city’s street department.
“The whole station was gutted. The only thing standing was the 2-by-4s, and if they were wet, we ripped them out. There was wood in here, but we had to tear it all out because there was mold and water damage. This building was built in 1938, so it’s an old house.”
Ironically, the original structure in 1938 was a swimming pool for whites only. The pool eventually shut down in the 1950s and Sam Houston State University used the facility for storage. The fire department has used the building for more than 40 years.
According to the City of Huntsville, Fire Station #2 was constructed at 2109 Sam Houston Avenue in 1973.