Is Your Studio or (Home) Office Flood Proof?

JVC VCRs flooding!On Friday morning, the plumbing at our video studio burst, flooding the main room with 2+ inches of water before we managed to shut it off.

Like most businesses, we’re not in a flood plain. A flood was the furthest thing from our mind in terms of potential natural disasters we may face. Fire, tornadoes and remnant hurricanes, yes*. But a flood? No way!

It’s been a miserable weekend, and we’re still not done repairing the damage.

The extent of the damage isn’t even fully known yet! There’s at least 2 full days left until we’re back and running.

But I have a question for you …

Are you prepared for flooding at your videography/photography studio, office, or even home office?

I bet not! So please, learn from our experience (and mistakes)…

(*Note: We’re in Texas again, since Q1 2013. Bye-bye Nashville.)

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Office Layout Matters

In our line of work, both for privacy and concentration, we operate a “closed” facility. No clients on-site, no visitors. Our videos can range from evidence enhancement, to studio pre-released (unreleased) content, or even just a mommy giving junior his first bath. So we don’t need anything overly large, fancy, or even located in a “good location”. It’s just for us and the work we need to do there.

Our last facility was awesome! It was small, but it had two floors — the video studio was upstairs in one large room, the photo studio upstairs in an even larger room, and the offices and restroom was downstairs. That also meant you could work for hours and not see/hear the others! (The only downside was the almost-weekly threat of tornadoes in the spring and fall, as Tennessee is part of tornado alley in the 21st century.)

This one — not so much. But it was the best we could do under the time constraints we had. (As you may know, the person known online as lordsmurf had a stroke while on vacation.) One floor, three rooms. The insulation sucks, so you can hear other through the wall. And the restroom shares a wall with the photo and video studio — which is where the problem comes in. The layout is awful.

What’s NOT Flood Damaged

First, the good news…

None of the video gear was damaged. All VCRs, TBCs, proc amps, DVD recorders, monitors (output, not computer), etc are on rack-mount-like custom shelves. Additionally, all computers are in shelves that sit 4 inches from the floor, and the main system is on a desk.

No customer videos were ever at risk. All video are stored on custom VHS-height shelves at eye level.

Anything stored in plastic tubs was unharmed.

What Was Damaged — aka Don’t Let This Happen To You!

Our UPSes — the battery backup surge protectors — were on the ground, and got entirely flooded. It’s a miracle that they didn’t short, killing the power on open work, and potentially even frying the computers and all the drives. A UPS has an open case, with the battery compartment on bottom, and the plugs on the top or side. We had a smaller ~$75 units laying on it’s side to better dissipate the heat from the bottom (caused by the battery), and it had standing water in the electric sockets! None were damaged — somehow, miraculously — but will dry for several days just in case. The UPS themselves are “only” worth ~$500, but the connected systems and drives are worth at least $10k. And that’s ignoring the drive contents!

Three Nikon DSLRs — a D3s, D3, a D200 — were on the floor. Almost $10k worth of DSLRs were partially submerged.

The brand new — only used once to test it! — Minolta color laser printer was on the floor. The old printer cabinet was trashed (along with the printer), and a new one was going to built. But we had not gotten “a round 2 it” yet. The printer was completely flooded, and had pooled water inside. It sloshed when you shook it! It’s not easy to disamantle, so for all I know, it still has water inside it. I have no idea if it still works. That’s $150.

The bottom cardboard box of a stack of file boxes acted like a sponge. The boxes contain more than a decade of research material that we use when needed. Some is frequent (monthly), while others haven’t been used in years (but is still current). Thankfully the cardboard took the brunt of the damage, but bottom corners are all damp. It could have been much worse. We should have used plastic file boxes, as we’ll be doing from now on. There’s no way to place a value on this. (Priceless?)

Several spindle of blank DVDs were in the flood waters. The bottom 3 inches of discs had to be trashed, including the now-empty spindles.In all, a whole spindle worth of discs was ruined. Another $30.

And finally, though the new facility is tiled, we had bought a number of rugs when we moved in. All had to be trashed and re-bought today for $100.


You don’t have to live by a river or in a low-lying area to be the victim of a flood.

All professionals should be vigilant to safeguard tapes that clients have entrusted into their care, as well as protect the own hardware. That includes not just obvious VCRs, computers, etc — but anything that’s on the floor. Especially the battery-backup surge protectors!

Same goes for hobbyists. Get your tapes and computers off that floor! Anything that can get ruined by getting wet needs to be put up. And by “put up”, I mean get it up on a shelf, in a closet, on a desk, whatever. Even I’ve been bad about this, but no more.

A wise man learns from the mistakes of others. So wise up, you dummy!

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