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Master plan for disaster clean

07 March 2013

Following the recent devastating floods in Cockermouth, Cumbria, ServiceMaster Clean was called in by NFU Mutual to carry out extensive disaster restoration services to homes and businesses in the town

Following the recent devastating floods in Cockermouth, Cumbria, ServiceMaster Clean was called in by NFU Mutual to carry out extensive disaster restoration services to homes and businesses in the town

Specialists in water damage restoration and mitigation, ServiceMaster Clean has several businesses based near to Cockermouth, and it was quickly on site to assess the damage and aid with the clean up operation this winter.

As so many properties were affected by the flood waters, ServiceMaster Clean drafted in businesses from the wider region, with the aim of getting policy holders back into their properties as quickly and efficiently as possible.

The lead ServiceMaster Clean business working with the NFU on the project was ServiceMaster Clean in Carlisle, owned and run by brother and sister team Bradley and Tracey Bigrigg.The Bigriggs have worked with the NFU for many years and have built a good relationship with them.Tracey believes that this is why the NFU continue to turn to them to carry out disaster restoration projects.

Customer care
"The key point for us has been to understand how the NFU want their customers to be treated; with the emphasis very much on the personal touch," says Tracey. "The NFU really do care about their customers and expect the contractor they appoint to do the same.

This translates into spending time with the policy holder and reassuring them that their claim will be dealt with quickly and efficiently and then delivering on that promise.The NFU are one of our biggest customers and we recognise that by working hard to keep their policy holders happy.

"We were called into Cockermouth by the NFU in November 2009 to deal with over 50 properties.The majority of these properties had been completely destroyed on the ground floor with almost 100% loss of contents. Our job has been to strip out and document and dispose of all contents beyond restoration.Where furniture could be restored we have worked hard to do so, drafting in our sister organisation Furniture Medic.We have also pressure washed and sanitised contaminated areas and installed drying equipment to dry the fabric of the building.We work closely with the policy holder and the loss adjusters and make sure that we can be contacted at all times to answer and resolve any queries."

Who you gonna call ?
After the emergency services, ServiceMaster Clean was one of the first organisations to be given access to the town to begin the clean up operation. In order to clean and sanitise the properties they had been instructed to work on, the flood waters needed to have subsided to a manageable level - by the time the teams arrived there was around a foot of water remaining.

Procedure after a flood: Everything inside a property is contaminated so the first thing ServiceMaster Clean does is to spray everywhere with a chemical solution to sanitise the building and minimise the potential health risks.The team then clears the property.

Once the property is completely clear and sanitised, ServiceMaster Clean then assesses the damage and makes recommendations to the insurers. For example the plaster and plasterboard may need to be stripped back in certain areas of the property, kitchen units may need removing and woodwork such as doors and skirting board will almost certainly need to be replaced.

To dry the property and get it to a stage where it can be handed over to the contractors to start repairs, the teams bring in specialist equipment including dehumidifiers and air movers.The time that this process takes depends on the age and condition of the property and the type of construction, but it is typically around two months. On-going checks are carried out to monitor the progress and customers are kept up to date with it.

An incident like the flooding experienced in Cockermouth tends to bolster a community in the days that follow, and sees people pulling together to make the best of a bad situation.However, from experience, ServiceMaster Clean business owners have found that this only lasts for a limited period of time and as the clean up progresses, it becomes increasingly important to keep home and business owners informed. Lack of knowledge in relation to the work being carried out on their properties leaves people feeling powerless and frustrated, so constant, clear communication is a crucial part of the service.

ServiceMaster Clean has businesses across the UK for a rapid response for flood, fire and vandalism-related emergencies.