When and if the shock of flood damage, suicides, sewer backups, or other unexpected events sinks in, remediation helps victims tackle the mess.
Bob Beasley, restoration technician at FGS The Restoration Co., at Hitters SportsPlex in Middleton. Just weeks before, Hitters (and hundreds of homes and businesses) sustained flood damage from unprecedented rains. WIth Beasley’s help, Hitters reopened in just 14 days.
Photograph by Sarah Maughan
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From the pages of In Business magazine.
With hundreds of businesses and households still dealing with the aftereffects of this year’s floods, and in particular the 10- to 13-inch dumping of rain that areas west of Madison experienced in August, FGS The Restoration Co. and other remediation companies have been busy.
Bob Beasley, 58, FGS restoration technician, admits he’d never seen anything like the amount of rain that fell in torrents from one storm on Aug. 20 and swallowed parts of south central Wisconsin for weeks to come.
Personal and financial losses from events like unexpected flooding can be devastating. In fact, the floods of 2018 revealed that only 2 percent of affected homeowners and businesses carried flood insurance.
Yet there’s an air of calmness in Beasley’s demeanor. After all, cleaning and restoring properties so businesses can reopen and homeowners can get their lives back is what FGS does, and what Beasley, in particular, is highly qualified to do.
We meet him at Hitters SportsPlex in Middleton where damage has, for the most part, already been mitigated. In fact, to the naked eye, except for some expected cosmetic changes, few things seem out of place. Entering the building, batting cages are to the right, tennis courts bustle with activity to the left, and the front desk and concession area are a few steps ahead. Silver Lining Martial Arts, a separate business, has adjacent space in the back.
Hitters’ General Manager Joel Tennison, at the front desk this day, recalls the morning after the storm when he sloshed through the flooded streets to open the building and discovered the entire 50,000-square-foot facility submerged under six to eight inches of floodwater. “The power was out,” he says, “and I couldn’t really see anything other than daylight outside. It was scary, knowing there was electrical in the building.” He estimates that the business sustained about $200,000 in damage, not including lost business.
FGS and Beasley arrived the very next day, he says, and cleanup took only two weeks. On the morning of our interview, Beasley saunters up to the desk, grinning as he glances around the restored space. He nods to Tennison, whom he hadn’t known prior to the August storm.
From top: Tennis resumes at Hitters, which was inundated in August with six to eight-inches of floodwater and mud. Beasley’s team handled the cleanup, from hand-scrubbing the massive hanging curtains to removing carpets and mats, but first water and humidity had to be removed to prevent mold growth.
Just a few weeks earlier, floodwaters left floors coated with fine dirt that settled into carpets and mats. The water can contain a host of contaminants, from animal feces to chemicals, Beasley notes.
For that reason, everything that touches it is considered contaminated and must either be cleaned and sanitized — including walls, studs, metal, carpets, and other soft materials — or removed and sent to the landfill.
“The first thing you do is get the water out,” Beasley explains. At Hitters, the crew first had to remove large, heavy curtains separating the various courts. Then, lining up side by side, Beasley and four other FGS employees stood shoulder to shoulder, each armed with a large floor squeegee, to quickly push water through open doors to the outside. Later, large pumps were brought in to continue the process.
In a pitching area against a back wall, artificial turf was removed because it was “completely saturated and dirty,” Beasley reports, including the rubber cushioning beneath the turf. Similarly, at Silver Lining Martial Arts, matting that had been glued to the floor had to be scraped off.
“That was a chore,” Beasley sighs.
Restoration companies often rent large equipment, including fans to blow heat into a space to speed drying, but Beasley says the FGS crew probably couldn’t have completed the Hitters’ job in two weeks were it not for more than a dozen temporary workers who showed up every morning to help clean the facility. “Temp agencies really came through for us,” he acknowledges.
Hanging curtains were taken down, hand scrubbed, and sanitized, and workers also cleaned channels around the interior perimeter where the walls meet the concrete floors — also by hand — removing any and all wet insulation “because there’s no other way to do it,” Beasley says. “It’s a very tedious job.”
Removing the water is the just the beginning, he cautions. “You have to dry the air at the same time because materials continue to soak up moisture.” Remediation specialists calculate the entire volume of the room when it comes to assessing water damage and repair costs. In this case, he says, Hitters’ high ceilings turned its 50,000-square-foot footprint into a 100,000-plus-cubic-foot job.
Remediation — cleaning, sanitizing with a product called Benefect, and drying — was done as quickly as possible to avoid mold growth, which can start in three to seven days. Over the years, Beasley says he’s seen a rainbow of mold colors. “You need a stable, steady drying process. Once you start drying, you stop the mold.” There’s a science to it, too, he adds. “You have to maintain the moisture level so you’re not drying too fast or too slow because if you dry too fast, you can cause structural issues.”
It took FGS’ crew almost 10 days of consistent drying and cleaning before Hitters SportsPlex was declared dry.