In October of 2015, 911 Restoration took on the challenges presented by the flooding of South Carolina homes and businesses in the aftermath of Hurricane Joaquin. One particular home was so affected by the flood waters that the ground beneath it became supersaturated and liquefaction actually shifted the earth, piling debris on top of the existing sump pump. This stopped it from pumping out the rest of the incoming water and much of the house flooded as a result.


By this point, the flooding that had taken place in South Carolina was already being called a one thousand year event. The rarity of this quantity and caliber of devastation meant it was now officially declared a state of emergency through FEMA. Needless to say, the homeowners at this location did not need to be convinced of this fact.

Hank Miller drove more than 400 miles, from Virginia to South Carolina, to rescue homeowners in need and see them through the tough times. Hank had already been working 12 to 14 hour days for more than a week by the time this job came to his attention, but he still rushed to the scene to help the homeowner.

Hank and his 911 Restoration crew arrived at the site to find a single story home with a crawlspace stretching out underneath the first half of the structure. The crawlspace included a converted garage turned into a den where the water wicked up all the drywall and ruined the entire room.

The flooding even penetrated the ground to such a degree that it became supersaturated and could no longer hold any more water. This made the ground more of a viscous liquid than a solid foundation the house was built upon. Because the ground became so fluid, the drum holding the sump pump sank, then overflowed and allowed debris and soil to shut down the pump. Without a working sump pump, the home stood no chance of beating back the water that would eventually destroy much of it.

Initially the plan was to extract the water and then begin the drywall demolition, but when Hank and his 911 Restoration team arrived on the scene they found that the ground was still saturated and any water they pumped out would be quickly replaced by seepage. With this in mind, Hank and his team shifted their focus and instead looked for the sump pump drum that had vanished in the flooding.

After finding the sump pump drum and clearing it of debris, mud, and gunk, they determined the pump itself was done for, and replaced the whole unit. Fortunately for the homeowner, Hank did this just in time, because a second wave of rain stormed in and threatened to destroy the whole house this time. But, with a working sump, the rest of the house was saved from an influx of additional rain that would have otherwise flooded it.

Tragically, the hardship for these homeowners was only just beginning. After the first wave of flood water subsided, their daughter passed away from unrelated causes. Being a family man himself, Hank understood completely that while there was nothing he could do to make the family whole again, he could at least do so for their home.

Making every effort to ease their suffering as much as possible, Hank pulled all of his crews from other jobs, and even hired locals to help speed the restoration process. Hank and his 911 Restoration team got back to work as quickly as possible, though at this point it had been two weeks since the initial flooding had occurred.

While the greater majority of the damage was done, it still felt like an ongoing problem to the homeowners who were now grappling with the loss of their daughter, in addition to their home. Hank took it upon himself to help with all of the insurance paperwork, and deal with all the specifics required by FEMA so that the homeowners could begin healing emotionally. 

Hank’s demolition crew came in and took out all the soaked drywall and any other water damaged materials that needed disposal. After digging in, they also realized category three water had been transported by the air conditioner into the duct work in the ceilings, obviously meaning replacement.

After doing all of the demolition work, removing waterlogged and moldy debris, they then deployed air moving equipment and completely dried out the home. Ultimately, the whole process would end up being one of the most challenging restoration jobs that Hank and his team have ever taken on.

At the time this article was written in late 2015, Hank and the homeowners were still wrestling with FEMA, the insurance provider, and the family continuing to recover from it all. But, they are safely back in their comfort zone: their own home. 


Note from the Editor:

What to get a closer look at this remediation job? Check out two videos on our website taken by Hank during different stages of the job to see what challenges the crew faced.