American Legion Post 17 revived after snow storm collapsed roof six years ago

Posted at 2:30 PM, Dec 28, 2016

Watching the surveillance video, you see the devastation. The roof comes slamming down in the main hall of American Legion Post 17, in Edgewood.

The back to back snow in February of 2010 was heavy and destructive, earning the name "Snowmageddon."

Post Commander and veteran Ed McCann was at the Legion the night before it happened, "I stopped in, the roads were getting bad, about 8 p.m. and I told the bar tender I didn't think it was wise to stay open at that point."

He announced last call, wrapped up the purchases and locked up the facility. The next morning around 9:30 a.m. he got a call that an alarm was going off at the post.

McCann said no roads were plowed, but he made it up to the building, "when I pulled onto the parking lot, I could smell gas. So, I got out and walked around, looked through the front door and saw that the roof was collapsed. I went back to the other side of the parking lot and called 9-1-1."

McCann said the July before the blizzard, he went to the American Legion state convention and learned his post was underinsured. A couple months later in October, he had the building inspected and was given a quote for a new insurance policy. McCann signed, saying he did not know the third party appraiser sent out to do the building measurements miscalculated.

When all was said and done, the legion was $380,000 shy of what they needed to repair the building and get back into business.

The legion sued the insurance company, but they only got what the policy promised.

The problems were far from over. As a non profit organization that helps veterans, many people are willing to lend a hand. So when the insurance company came out to evaluate the damage and brought along a structural architect who said his father was an American Legion member, and he wanted to help, McCann was hopeful.

"He submitted his bid, it was very convincing and the architect turned out not to be the builder he claimed... Most of the things he did were not to building code, not to health department codes. The majority of what he did had to be redone," McCann said.

McCann said some of the mistakes included a roof with no sprinklers, requiring the legion to buy fire retardant material for the walls, and leaving building material outside uncovered that was ruined during another storm. The builder wanted $840,000 to rebuild the post and another $18,000 for a water permit, needed to bring a water main across the road to the post to bring the building up to code.

The amount of work made McCann realize his imminent retirement from being a test driver with Aberdeen Proving Ground needed to be immediate.

"I was ready to retire, I mean I put a lot of years in there. I loved my job, don't get me wrong, but when this place fell, I felt that I had a responsibility here," McCann said.

He was on site every day, feeling the weight of the reconstruction, as the years came and went.

On the six anniversary of the cave in, two sheriff's deputies lost their lives in the line of duty. Both were members of the American Legion, Patrick Dailey was a member of Post 17.

McCann wanted to honor those men, so together the post asked to re-charter as the Patrick Dailey- Mark Longsdon Memorial Service Post 17.

"We're very proud and very honored to be able to do that to keep their memories alive," McCann said.

In order to reopen, they had to take out a $390,000 mortgage. November 5th, 2016 was the first day the post officially reopened.

"Overwhelming pride, overwhelming, it was like a weight lifted off my shoulders," McCann said he was glad to finally be back in business.

To pay for that mortgage, the post has held fundraisers, installed a couple slot machines and continues to have a box in their lounge asking for donations.

For New Year's Eve, Baltimore Icon Ronnie Dove will be headlining a concert , Saturday night, December 31st at American Legion Post 17 in Edgewood. Doors open at 7 p.m., tickets are $50. Dinner is $6. The show runs from 9-12 p.m. then a champagne toast will kick off the new year. Beer, wine and the champagne toast are included with the tickets. About 90 tickets have been sold and the legion is capping sales at 240.

The building preceding this one was about 40 years old. The original post was founded between World War I and World War II.

Those interested in donating can contact Post 17 through their Facebook page.

Download the ABC2 News app for the iPhone, Kindle and Android.