The Great Warehouse Flood of 2014

Early on a Monday morning in January of 2014 I received a phone call from our warehouse manager. Typically early morning phone calls mean that something is wrong, but usually it’s nothing like this. When our employees arrived that morning they were greeted by a flooded warehouse. Parts of the warehouse were in several inches of water, and most of it was in some sort of standing water. It looked like this:

Warehouse Flood

And this:

Warehouse Flood

Immediately they started photoing everything, which was a huge help with the insurance claim. I hopped on the phone and started the (long) claims process. The warehouse park was there within a few minutes to help with the cleanup and diagnose the problem (a busted pipe over the weekend in the vacant space adjacent to us). That day was insane, but we still shipped out every single customer order with inventory that wasn’t damaged.

A lot of products were on shelves, but a lot weren’t. We lost about 20% of our inventory. Since then we’ve purchased shelving units for towels, pads, and other products that were damaged in this claim so that in the future a flood like this wouldn’t damage nearly as much inventory.

We worked tirelessly to inventory the damage for the insurance company. We finished by Friday of that week. Our claims agent was shocked by our organization – she said she’s never received the amount of detailed information that we sent in such a short amount of time.

It took longer than we would have liked, but we eventually got our money and replaced the inventory, shelving units, and other damaged property. Thankfully our offices are on the other end of the building and were entirely dry.

I didn’t write about this when it happened in part because of the ongoing insurance claim. At the time we were pissed. The time and energy spent resolving this could have been devoted to all sorts of important projects.

Now that it’s been two years though, I’m not so angry any more. A lot of positives came out of this. We continued operations in the midst of a disaster. Our teamwork from top to bottom in the organization was amazing. Our inventory is now less susceptible to flooding in the future. We learned how to navigate a large insurance claim. And as bad as it was, it could have been much much worse in so many ways. Funny how your perspective on things can change over time.

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