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Flood waters drain Cochrane Museum bank account

WATCH: Fast-moving flood waters filled the basement of the Cochrane Museum over the weekend, causing damages that are expected to cost the historical society that runs the museum all of its reserve funds.

Flood waters washed away years of hard work by the Cochrane Historical & Archival Preservation Society (CHAPS) over the weekend.

“Saturday evening, we were alerted by the Cochrane fire department that the creek that’s just west of the [Cochrane Historical] Museum had overflowed its banks and a lot of water was heading toward the museum,” said Frank Hennessey, a member of CHAPS, which owns and operates the Cochrane Museum.

In just a few short hours, Hennessey estimated more than three feet of water had rushed in to the museum’s basement.

“We’ve lost some pictures and artifacts and so on, but probably our biggest problem is we’ve lost our basement,” Hennessey said Wednesday.

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The society’s office had also been housed in the Museum’s basement.

“We’re going to have to replace the carpeting, the drywall from the floor [to] four feet up, insulation and things like that, plus a lot of furniture was there — anything that got touched by water basically we have to throw out,” he said.
Flood waters washed away years of hard work by the Cochrane Historical & Archival Preservation Society over the weekend.
Flood waters washed away years of hard work by the Cochrane Historical & Archival Preservation Society over the weekend. Global News

Hennessey said he wasn’t sure what insurance would cover but the deductible was “very, very high.”

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He said it was too early to put a dollar figure on the total cost of the damage, but he and other CHAPS members are certain it will wipe out their bank account.

“What money we do have, and we’re not rich, would have been going to improve and enhance the museum,” said Hennessey. “Instead, it’s going to be used to take us back to where we were and that’s kind of devastating.”

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Founded in 1999, CHAPS immediately identified three local buildings they hoped to preserve. The house that is now home to the museum was among them.

It would take years for members to raise the money needed to purchase the building, but finally in 2012, it was theirs.

By 2014, they had relocated the house to its current site, and in 2015, they opened the museum to the public.

“The feeling of pride in creating this house was tremendous and a lot of people worked really, really hard to make it happen and now… this is a devastating setback,” said Hennessey.

Flood waters washed away years of hard work by the Cochrane Historical & Archival Preservation Society over the weekend.
Flood waters washed away years of hard work by the Cochrane Historical & Archival Preservation Society over the weekend. Global News

CHAPS president Larry Want echoed Hennessey’s disappointment.

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“All the sweat and blood over the years we’ve put into this organization in collecting all the artifacts, it was just sad to see,” Want said.

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Volunteers have been working around the clock since Sunday to clean and sanitize all the photos, artifacts and other items salvaged from the museum basement. As an official charitable organization, CHAPS hasn’t made any formal plans to fundraise to help cover the cost of repairs.

“If people want to bring sacks of money and put them on our doorstep here, that would be very, very good,” Hennessey joked.

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Tickets are still available for a previously planned fundraiser next month, and people are welcome to make donations through their website.

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