Day 2 after the flood

It’s astonishing to realize how little you really need to run a business. Yesterday we found out.

At 11am, I went back to the scene of what I now refer to as “The Great Flood of 2010.” I had to let the clean-up crew from Chandler-based J & M, Inc. back in and meet with their “pack out” rep, Misti Van Emst, assistant manager of ABSOLUT Restoration in Phoenix. Our insurance claims adjuster, Mike Kenney, from The Hartford, also was there.

Misti and Mike spent more than an hour roaming through our much drier, but still very damp office, scribbling notes, conferring with each other, asking me questions. The roar of nearly 40 fans and dehumidifiers made it almost impossible to hear. Each room has a big bin into which water sucked up by the dehumidifiers is dripping.

With the lights on (yesterday we had to throw the breaker to avoid being electrocuted), it was easier to tell exactly how much damage had been caused by the burst pipe in a tiny, wall-mounted drinking fountain in the Signature Salon studio overhead.

We have sustained significant damage to the wall between our office and the parking garage. It will have to be completely torn out. That means my office and those of Operations Director Debbie Davis and Art Director Michelle-Renee Adams will have to be “packed out.” J&M will box up each item, take it to their facility, dry it out, assess damage and then — once the walls and ceiling are repaired — move it back in. Because the path of the creeping river overhead split into several tributaries traversing our office, two additional rooms that were severely damaged — the offices of Marketing Director MaryAnn Ortiz-Lieb and Production Manager Tina Gerami — also must be packed out.

I tried to listen as Misti explained the procedures but my head was fuzzy from lack of sleep and the drone of all that equipment. Finally I figured out the question I needed to ask. “So how long does all this take?” I asked.

“I think it’s going to take at least 30 days,” she said. “You need to get all your people in here to remove anything they may need — anything that’s critical to keeping your business running for the next month. We’d like to start tomorrow.”

She hugged me before she left, reassuring me that her team would get us through this.

Stunned, I moved on to Mike. He, too, was reassuring. Our coverage is solid and includes provisions for “extra business expenses” incurred in the aftermath of an event like this. All the extra electricity to run these giant fans and dehumidifiers? Covered. Extra mileage reimbursement my employees might need as we work from a “virtual” office? Covered. Furniture and technological equipment? Covered. Office supplies? Covered. Even “valuable papers” are covered.

Unfortunately, most of the paper I truly value — Arizona Press Club award notifications, thank you notes from readers, lots of photographs from our company history — is ruined and irreplacable. That’s not covered.

By 3:30 yesterday afternoon, Debbie and I had moved everything we needed over to my home office. Tina and Michelle will go through their offices this morning before the pack-out crew arrives. MaryAnn is out of town for a family member’s bar mitzvah in Chicago, so we will do the best we can to figure out what to salvage from her area.

Today, our IT guy, Leon Hauck, will set up a digital phone and voicemail system in my home and transport all of our our network files to a hard drive in my home. Tina is coming over to prepare invoices that must go out today. Debbie will be here, too. Michelle-Renee is working from her house on design for the July magazine, which goes to the printer on Wednesday. Mala will be at Channel 12 as usual, for her Arizona Midday segment (today it’s at 2pm).

Debbie and I laughed as we trudged through my hallway with our boxes and piles yesterday. “We have a nap room across the hall!” I joked. We’re thinking this might be kind of fun.

On Monday I will assemble my staff for a meeting at my home and we’ll figure out where we go from here. — Karen

The perpetrator in the office above us.

P.S. Staff multimedia journalist Vicki Balint drove to my house yesterday to grab a mini disk of video footage I recorded as we experienced the first 10 hours of the “flood.” I wanted to get it out, to show people, but was too overwhelmed to figure out what to do with it. She has edited it into six segments that now appear on our YouTube channel:

Office Flood: Part I

Office Flood: Part II

Office Flood: Part III

Office Flood: Part IV

Office Flood: Part V

Office Flood: Part VI


One response to “Day 2 after the flood

  1. Heartbreaking, I’m so sorry.

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