Calcutta Rowing Club (CRC), the second oldest rowing club in the world, is in a shambles after Monday night’s storm. The nearby Lake Club and Bengal Rowing Club on the Dhakuria lake have also been damaged by the storm, though not as badly as CRC.
About half the tiled roof of a shed built next to the CRC pool in 2008 has been blown away, leaving behind fragments of tiles on the floor. The storm even pushed iron benches near the pool into the water.
“It was scary. Branches were flying through the air, tiles were falling off and chairs and tables were being dragged around,” said Md Shirazuddin, a senior bearer at the 154-year-old club, which was almost empty at that time.
The multi-gym overlooking the pool was also damaged. The aluminium frames and glass panels of the windows on the staircase fell into the pool. “The water will have to be drained and the pool cleaned before it can be refilled,” said Chandan Roy Choudhury, the honorary secretary of the club.
The broken pots in front of the club also have to be cleared. “It looks like the storm hit the lawn and kitchen first, then moved towards the boathouse verandah, where it blew off the false ceiling and did considerable damage to the pool area,” said Choudhury.
Falling branches damaged the roof tiles over the dining and kitchen area. A thick tree trunk weighing down on a portion has to be removed by a crane, said Choudhury.
Large chunks of the false ceiling covering the verandah on top of the boathouse that faces the lake were blown off, baring the corrugated PVC roof. “We can’t even begin to ascertain the cost of the damage,” said club president P.S. Raychaudhuri.
Past president Kalyan Ghosh, who has been a member of the club for 40 years, does not remember “seeing anything like this”.
The small field that faces the entrance of all the three clubs looks like a disaster zone, with fallen trees and branches everywhere.
Falling trees and branches inflicted the worst damage on Lake Club. “Some trees fell on the boundary wall railing and broke it. Asbestos sheets over the staff quarters and glow signs were blown off,” said honorary joint secretary Subrata Guha.
Bengal Rowing Club suffered the least damage. “A few glass doors and some window panes broke in the storm,” said club CEO Ashim Kumar Mukherjee.
Across town, RCGC and Tollygunge Club, got off lightly too. “There wasn’t any damage to the greens on Monday but the telephone and computer lines got snapped, which are being restored,” Tolly managing member A.R. Mukerji told Metro on Tuesday afternoon.
At RCGC, the trees bore the brunt of the squall. “Some 30-40 trees were damaged. A nearly 100-year-old tree was struck by lightning,” said club CEO M.M. Singh.