Carpet/Rug/Upholstery Cleaning

Rug Course Turns Into Rescue Mission in Wake of Colorado Floods

Due to the Colorado floods, this standard three-day training seminar quickly turned into a rescue mission

November 1, 2013

Last June, when the board members of the Professional Association of Cleaning and Restoration (PACR) and I were discussing plans for my September hands-on rug cleaning course, none of us could have ever imagined how “hands-on” it would become. The course was scheduled for September 18-20 at Nesheims’ Cleaning and Restoration Services, Inc. (owned by Rick and Janet Faraysn) in Lafayette, Colorado. Registrations for the course were coming in steadily with more than half of the students traveling in from out of state.

Little did we know that Mother Nature would throw us for one wild loop.

The Denver area is typically very dry in August and September. But torrential rains began blasting the area on September 12 and didn’t let up for five days. Some areas of the state received more than 12 inches of water and floodwaters were on the rise everywhere. We had to make a decision – cancel the course or proceed as best as we could?

We chose to move forward with the class knowing that our host company needed a lot of extra help. In fact, Nesheims’ building barely escaped being flooded when the water from a nearby creek came within inches of entering their warehouse. All in all, the severe floods in Colorado could end up costing homeowners, businesses and local governments more than $2 billion. They’ve already cost eight people their lives. And they turned a would-be routine rug course into an innovative, learning session.

The 15 students, which included a mix of business owners and technicians, offer area and Oriental rug washing as a specialty service in their respective companies. Several of the companies also offer restoration services. Due to the floods, this standard three-day training seminar quickly turned into a rescue mission. No, we weren’t rescuing people, but the valuable Oriental and area rugs that were on their way to being completely ruined in the flooding. Many of the rugs which came into the rug plant had already been underwater and in the mud for several days. 

When the students arrived for the course the first morning, I told them that they would be put to work helping Gary Gertie, Nesheims’ rug plant manager, process flood-damaged rugs. Each day of the course, more wet rugs and even several rooms of expensive wool carpet were brought into the facility for remediation, which included drying, decontamination, dusting and intensive cleaning.

As the rugs came in, they were first dried out. Since the rugs had been exposed to Category 3 floodwater, once dried they were drenched - both front and back - with an antimicrobial treatment. Many of them were packed with mud, so prior to cleaning they were flushed with water, then submersion cleaned. The students helped as best they could under the circumstances and gained some valuable insight and experience along the way.

Rug Rescuers

Doug Dimick- Newlife Carpet & Furniture Cleaning
Tom King- Sani Bright
Karen King- Sani Bright
Jacob Cameron- DRC
Shawn Swisher- USClean
Adam Darling- USClean
Kevin O’Brien-Repear- Healthy Home Carpet
Andrea Versendaal- All Seasons
Patrick Bergesen- Duraclean Master Cleaners
Paul Schleunige-r Gentle Genie Rug Care
Chris Schlipf- A Cleaner Carpet
Yaser Amireh- Service Master Advanced
Waleed Shahin- Service Master Advanced
Gary Patnode- All Star Services
Georgia Ann Patnode- All Star Services

During the three-day course the students also learned about rug identification, pre-inspection and assessment and numerous methods of cleaning rugs. They also cleaned several urine-contaminated rugs and re-latexed the back of a cotton-hooked rug for one of my clients.

Unfortunately, Nesheims’ eventually ran out of space to process all the rugs. I spoke to Janet Farasyn two weeks after the flood and she told me that they had processed 108 flooded homes and more than 120 water-damaged rugs.

As our students learned, Oriental and area rugs costing thousands of dollars can be saved if action is correctly and quickly taken. And personal belongings, like a family heirloom rug, can be restored.

 Unlike many other natural disasters, a high percentage of the losses from this and other similar storms like Katrina, Sandy and the Nashville flood several years ago - which I was involved with when working with ProCare of Nashville - are not covered by insurance. So by salvaging rugs, well-trained cleaners and restorers can make a difference to someone who may have lost everything else. The 15 students that thought they were taking a standard rug course learned this first-hand. 

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