After the flood

03 March 2014

Anna Riley, director of ServiceMaster Clean Portsmouth and Southampton, explains how businesses have been restored in the aftermath of recent heavy rains

The last few months have seen UK coastlines battered by storms and thousands of properties flooded as a result of heavy rains. This has caused extensive damage to building structures, both commercial and residential, such as leaking roofs, burst pipes, flooded floors and tiles loosened by high winds.

ServiceMaster Clean Portsmouth and Southampton has been managing a significant clean-up operation for commercial organisations and residential properties in the areas in and around Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight. Businesses affected by serious disasters should request that professionally qualified contractors are used for restoration and recovery. Experts will be able to restore carpet and upholstery, extract water, remove odour, dry and dehumidify buildings, remove spills, dry and recover documents, and offer any other related services. Even a small amount of water can cause all kinds of problems if left unchecked, so it makes sense to deal with the damage as soon as possible.


ServiceMaster Clean provides a specialist disaster recovery service, Restoration Response, to deal with incidents quickly, therefore keeping the damage and associated costs to a minimum. Sign up is free and businesses can receive help within two to four hours at any time of the year. This quick response was welcomed by organisations in the south east of England, an area that experienced heavy rainfall just days before Christmas.


On the frontline 

One of the largest universities in the region faced significant flooding of its facilities. It was vital that this educational establishment was operational by the start of the new year, when students returned from their festive break. It was also critical that the students’ well-being was not put at risk by health and safety hazards from the flooding. 


Over the winter period, this particular region also saw an increase in demand for the disaster restoration service from pubs, as they are often situated near rivers or by the sea. In one instance, restoration work was undertaken at a pub on the Isle of Wight which was flooded by water coming in from the sea. Water had saturated the pub garden and flowed through into the first floor of the pub, which was submerged under 2ft of water. All furniture had to be stripped out of the pub, to avoid being damaged further and to allow space for restoration work to be completed. The furniture was taken to ServiceMaster Clean’s workshop, ready to be assessed and restored if possible.

The ground floor was subsequently sanitised to stop the spread of bacteria from potentially dirty water. Flood water can contain sewage, chemicals and animal waste, and there may be hazards in the water such as sharp objects. Waterproof outerwear including gloves, wellington boots and a face mask should always be worn for protection.  

Once water was pumped from the building, specialist drying equipment was used. If materials and surfaces have failed to dry out correctly following water damage, moisture can become a source for dry rot, bacteria and growth of toxic mould. This can become a health hazard, releasing allergenic spores or toxic compounds into the air. The drying process can take up to five weeks, depending upon how serious the flooding is. ServiceMaster Clean return to the premises every week to check whether the materials are dry. Once this has been verified by their specially trained technicians, a drying certificate is then issued to the owner.