Flood disaster 2021: The consequences and measures

Heatwaves, drought, heavy rain and hurricanes: the effects of climate change are becoming ever clearer – and Germany is no exception to this. The low-pressure system called ‘Bernd’ first hit parts of North Rhine-Westphalia on 13 July 2021 and then caused disastrous floods in the Eifel and Bergisches Land regions, leaving a severe destruction in its wake. The people affected by this then had to a great deal to work through, reconstructing buildings and trying to salvage what could be saved. Many of them face losing their livelihood. However, the storm not only destroyed parts of private households – the public sector and companies were also seriously affected.

The storm front called ‘Bernd’

The summer of 2021 was characterised by heavy and persistent rain. Intense showers occurred repeatedly, but the storm front called ‘Bernd’ caused absolute disaster. It kept the people on tenterhooks for three days and was the dominant topic in the media.

Enormous amounts of damage

Thousands of houses, public buildings such as schools and nurseries as well as companies were destroyed by the severe weather. The damage in North Rhine-Westphalia alone has been estimated at EUR 13 billion.

However, not only private individuals were hit hard by the disaster. Companies, too, face enormous challenges in the aftermath. The storm not only destroyed sensitive equipment in flooded cellars at firms’ premises, but also important files. They were inundated by the high levels of contaminated water, and mould quickly started to form. After the water had drained off, it was possible to recognise the enormous extent of the damage. Many entrepreneurs were initially at their wits’ end and did not know how they could restore the damaged files. However, the files are not necessarily lost for good since there are ways of restoring them.

Rapid action is necessary

One factor is absolutely crucial in the process of rescuing files: time. Rapid action can protect the documents from moisture, contamination and infestation with mould. However, even if the files have already been affected by these things, solutions are still available. The dangerous thing about mould infestation is the health risks that are associated with it. If mould is present, it is particularly important to make use of professional file restoration services.

„In the process of restoring files, it’s essential to have a professional partner at your side, which can stay on top of things in the middle of the crisis and perform the restoration work professionally“
Michael Wiegmann | Managing Director of Rhenus Data Office

The process of restoring files in five steps:

The damaged collection of files is registered and packed in filing boxes. Once the file restoration process has been completed, the company returns and re-sorts them.

The affected files are picked up at the company and taken to the file restoration centre.

The files are first rapidly frozen in a deep-freeze warehouse to prevent any further damage. Care is taken to use a file drying process that damages the paper as little as possible.

Microorganisms are killed off with the help of x-ray radiation in vacuum chambers. Microbiological checks are then performed. These verify that the documents are then non-hazardous.

The files are subsequently cleaned manually using a special tool. If necessary, the files can be digitalised, too.

After the disaster

A great deal of support still has to be provided in the time after the flood with the start of reconstruction work and retrieval of material items. The service company, Rhenus Data Office, also supports companies in the emergency situation they face by restoring their files for them.

Would you like some more information?

Rhenus has been concentrating on the process of restoring files for years and uses it for customers in a way that is flexible and wide-ranging. Let our experts advise you on this topic.

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