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Winds tear part of Watertown Municipal Arena’s roof

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It wasn’t quite a hurricane, but like a scene from the 1996 blockbuster “Twister,” high winds whipped through the Watertown area Sunday and ripped off a 120-foot portion of the Watertown Municipal Arena’s roof.

The part that came off, known as the flashing, covers the vent that runs along the peaked roof’s center line.

Without it, the ice below is left vulnerable to leaks from precipitation normally halted by the impervious metal.

It’s an inconvenient turn of events, but not one that will slow down activities at the arena at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds on Coffeen Street, which, as of this season, hosts the Thousand Islands Privateers minor league professional team in the Federal Hockey League.

The arena is open for business as usual. On Monday morning, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, pucks launched by the Skate and Shoot crowd were flying, their velocity unaffected by the change in barometric pressure.

This week’s schedule, packed tightly from early in the morning to nearly midnight every day, will proceed normally.

Erin E. Gardner, superintendent of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, said city engineer Kurt W. Hauk has been apprised of the situation and is in the process of finding a roofing company to get it back in shape.

“Right now, we’re anticipating if it does rain then we probably will have leaks in the arena. I mean, we had leaks in the arena before the flashing went off,” she said. “If there are a lot of leaks, we’ll just have to make sure that we’re Zamboni-ing the ice more often.”

Mrs. Gardner said the repairs will be made as soon as the roofing company can come in to fix the damage.

For now, the most vulnerable piece of equipment is the scoreboard mounted beneath the vent.

Plans are to keep it covered with waterproof materials in hopes of keeping it safe until permanent repairs can be made.

According to Mrs. Gardner, the worst scenario would be a buildup of snow, which could then melt and leak onto the ice.

Lake-effect snow and bitter cold are in the forecast for the week.

Mrs. Gardner, who is from Adams Center and returned to her native area this year after working in New York City and Syracuse, said she requested a new roof and new floor in this year’s city budget.

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