Cleanups continue

Dave Bartlett
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Restoration companies still working flat out repairing flood damaged homes

St. John's companies which restore properties after floods, sewer backups and broken water mains are still working flat out following several recent incidents.

The most significant damage followed a heavy rainstorm in mid February.

It even hit close to home, as Telegram reporter Barb Sweet discovered water in her basement after the storm.

Sweet's home had never flooded before, but she always checked her basement after heavy rain because she's covered several stories of flooded basements over the years.

She first noticed 15 to 20 centimetres of water in her laundry room, then discovered sewage in the basement bathroom and saw the tub was partly full.

She called the city to report a backup. When a public works crew arrived, they told her to call her insurance company and handed her a Canadian Red Cross leaflet.

"I started to well up (when) he said the ... floors were going to have to go and he said, 'Yyou're going to have to get a company in to pump it out and then we'll come back,'" Sweet said.

It took three hours to pump out the water and Sweet had to leave her home for two days until she could find her sewer cleanout. Many people, she was told, don't know where to find theirs.

The cleanout was finally discovered under her front step.

"They stuck (the snake) down and there was this great big whoosh," Sweet said. "It was the happiest sound, I think I'd heard in a long time."

The contractor then came back to do the tear-out and dry up her basement. Repairs are still going on and could take several more weeks.

Sweet is just one of dozens in the city who've had floods in 2012.

Craig Langille is the owner of Winmar, which specializes in cleaning up water damage and restoring homes.

"We've been quite busy. Of course, that last flood - 65 millimetres of rain combined with those strong winds, over 100 kilometres an hour - gave us probably 100 new claims," he said.

Langille said some people decided to do repairs themselves, which he said is a bad idea.

Before a property can be restored, affected areas must be completely dried and sprayed to prevent mould.

Langille said some who did their own work are coming back because their basements now smell.

He said people often don't think they have a problem unless they can see it, but leaving damp material behind walls or under floors can make a minor problem much worse.

Winmar, Langille said, has special equipment to measure moisture and look behind walls to check for damage.

He said the cost to have an assessment is much less then the cost of fixing a problem left to linger.

Danielle Corcoran runs Floor Source.

She said her company is busy, working seven days a week, just getting ready to relay damaged flooring.

"We're busy because we have (about) 200 houses to go measure and do quotes," she said.

Flooring is usually the last thing to be replaced, said Corcoran, so her company is doing the groundwork so when homes are ready, her crews can get to work.

But that means several months of work is still ahead for Floor Source.

When asked if 2012 has been busier than normal, she said no, as major storms hit the city every year or so.

"I think the (recent) storms we had ... caused us to be as busy as we were during (hurricane) Igor," said Corcoran.

She said her company goes out of its way to help people who've been flooded out.

"When people come in, they're pretty upset. It's an experience that they weren't prepared to go through," she said.

Langille and Sweet both have advice for homeowners on how to help prevent flooding.

"After a storm, everybody should go out and walk around ... their home and check for loose siding, loose shingles, missing shingles," Langille said.

As a homeowner, Sweet said everyone should know where their cleanout is, and upgrade their plumbing - including a backflow valve - whenever the opportunity arises.


Geographic location: St. John's

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