The Santa Cruz Sentinel, March 30, 2011
Capitola Village Drying Out; One Critic Raises Environmental Concerns
By Jondi Gumz
CAPITOLA — Companies large and small are hustling to prevent mold from growing at homes and businesses flooded last week in Capitola Village, but one restoration specialist has opted not to work there, citing concerns about airborne contamination. It's hard to say how many people were cleaning up Tuesday, but it's safe to say the village was abuzz with activity.
Fans blowing. Dehumidifiers running. Boxes being stacked and packed on the sidewalks. GreenWaste dumpsters sat on almost every block, compliments of the city, to help businesses get rid of debris like wet carpet and drywall. The city also hired a mom-and-pop company from Salinas, Everclear Hydro Jetting, to wash mud off the streets.
Karen Batista of Disaster Kleenup Specialists Monterey Bay, based in Sand City, was called in Thursday by The Village Mouse gift shop and again on Saturday after the second flash flood.
“Everything we cleaned, we're cleaning again,” said Guy Clendenin, a manager with Disaster Kleenup. “They have flood insurance.”
The company at one point had 22 of its 60-member workforce on the job in Capitola. Clendenin said the water damage in the village involved “Category 3 Black Water,” which includes sewage.
“It has to be tested,” he said, citing the potential for E. coli pathogens.
Asbestos or lead-based paint in water-damaged buildings triggers federal rules for contractors.
“If you're going to do demolition, any building materials need to be analyzed before demolition takes place,” Clendenin said.
Many business owners have ripped out carpet and floors themselves, trying to prevent mold.
“A lot of people don't have flood insurance, so they're paying out of pocket,” Clendenin said. “We've had some undercut our prices.”
Valley Cleaning & Restoration, owned by Bill Shevlin in Watsonville, is working with about 20 homes and businesses.
“An amazing amount of progress has been made in the past three days,” Valley Cleaning office manager Jessica Arias said. “Our crew was walking in 3 feet of water.”
The company was called Thursday to Riverview Avenue, where backyards touch Soquel Creek, and sent eight of its 15 employees to Capitola on Sunday. Other clients are on Lawn Way, close to the beach. Some homes need major restoration involving walls, cabinets and flooring.
“We are working with homeowners who are insured,” Arias said, predicting homes will be ready for use by mid-summer. Some homeowners have not done anything yet about the damage, which surprised her because of the potential for mold or electrical damage. For business owners with minor damage from an inch or so of water, the dry-out costs anywhere from $400 to a couple thousand dollars,” she said.
Belfor Property Restoration, which worked on cleanup in Chile after the earthquake and in Hawaii after the tsunami, has been retained by city Police Department and the Central Fire District.
“Normally the insurance company recommends us,” said David Warters, Belfor's general manager in San Jose.
United Rental in Soquel has rented out eight fans and three dehumidifiers in Capitola.
“Also water pumps,” said branch manager Tim Davis, who plans to volunteer with the Builders Exchange to help with cleanup Saturday.
Mike Mosbach, who heads restoration services at DMC Construction in Monterey, criticized people who set up fans that could be sending bacteria from contaminated “Category 3 Black Water” into the air for everyone to breathe.
“They're not breaking any law, but they're acting inappropriately,” he said. “You can't have floodwater that flows through a town that doesn't have a high degree of bacteria.”
He said he reported his concerns to the Santa Cruz County health department. The Capitola Village Business Improvement Association and the Western Service Workers Association plans a seminar featuring local attorney Bob Katz at 11:30 a.m. Monday at Mr. Toots on the subject of insurance.
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