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The flood that uncovered treasure

A cold snap with a prolonged period of minus temperature – followed by a quick rise in temperature – the ideal conditions for burst pipes.

Worse still, the burst pipe conditions came during the Christmas and New Year season – a time when many people were away visiting relatives. Mr W was one of these – he was 96 years old, lived alone in a bungalow and had spent the New Year with relatives. He returned home to find his home devastated by a burst pipe.

Ceilings collapsed, wallpaper peeling, carpets saturated and no heating or electrics. As a survivor of a a Japanese POW camp, Mr W was not a man easily dismayed – he also had a handshake so fierce it rendered me unable to start the paperwork for some time! During the course of our work, Mr W told us about his life and how he had lost his wife six months previously.

As we got to the main bedroom I moved the bed to cut away the sodden carpet and noticed a gold ring shining up at me. When I gave this to Mr W he welled up and was overcome with emotion as he explained that it was his wedding ring – he hadn’t seen it since his wife passed away. He thought he had lost it. We were greatly humbled by the experience, and delighted to have been able to add a little happiness to an otherwise difficult time.

The Christmas Day flood clean-up

High rainfall and swollen rivers affected large swathes of the Sussex countryside during the build up to Christmas. We offer a 24/7 service and knew that a Christmas Day call out was likely. As ever, we allocated Christmas Day and Boxing Day between the partners of the company. At 10 am the call came in: a mill house in West Sussex had been inundated with water from a swollen stream.

Apollo’s directors set off immediately, and by 11 am we were on our way. Our own Christmas dinners would have to wait. On route to the property we discovered a serious hitch – the surrounding roads were flooded. At first it looked like there was no way through – the fast flowing water was enough to sweep our van away – but we made a quick assessment of the risks involved and decided to cross. Once over the worst section onlookers applauded us – it seemed our services were going to be appreciated!

On arrival at the house we surveyed the scene – water had ingressed up to a foot in the lounge, conservatory and kitchen, but the dining room had been spared – it was on a higher level than the rest of the ground floor.

The householders looked shocked – we needed to put them at ease as best we could and devise a plan. They had their Christmas dinner in the (unaffected) dining room and relaxed as best as possible as we got stuck into the clear up operation, which involved extracting water, sanitising, removing carpets and installing drying equipment.

We were able to leave the house in a reasonable condition, giving the homeowner a schedule for our return visits to monitor and manage the drying process.