KINGSPORT, Tenn. - As the flood cleanup continues across Kingsport and other parts of the Tri-Cities, water restoration businesses are literally working around the clock to keep up with demand.
With the roaring of a commercial shop vacuum goes the very last of the four inches of water that swept inside Bethel Apostolic Church in Kingsport.
"We got to have our services. We're going to get back in here just as quick as we can," said Garland Tipton, the church's pastor.
It's a task that's been on repeat for Servpro of Kingsport/Bristol since Wednesday's torrential flooding.
"The storms came in about 5:00 p.m., I believe," said Jarrod Slagle, a water technician for Servpro. "We worked until 7:00 that morning."
These crews have been going from building to building across Kingsport after a receiving a flood of their own in phone calls. "The phones were ringing off the hook. All of the office staff, we all slept at the shop next to phones, and we had 56 calls on Wednesday night," said Rebecca Ervin, a marketing representative with Servpro.
On a normal day, News 5 learned the company gets about three or four water damage calls.
It's not just the number of calls they're getting; it's the time spent on the calls as well. For example, the job to clean up Bethel Apostolic Church alone will take over 12 hours because crews have to rip up the walls, rip up the carpet, clean everything up, and dry it out. "It's one of those things where you don't get much sleep, but you have to get it done to make sure everyone's taken care of," said Slagle.
What might be most important in this ongoing cleanup process is making sure mold, mildew, and bacteria are long gone before any members of this congregation come back for worship in a sanctuary that's so close to their hearts. "It's just a place we're thankful for, a place we have to meet, but the people [are] the church, and you got to take care of the people," said Tipton.
Employees at Servpro told News 5 they expect to work close to 100 hours by the week's end, and that includes extra help they've called in from other offices in Nashville, Knoxville, and other areas.