Recent Storm Damage Posts

We've got Brains, Heart, and Courage!

8/27/2021 (Permalink)

employees next to wizard of oz wall with yellow brick in backround Follow the yellow brick road!

OUR SERVPRO technicians have ALL the traits the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion were seeking. They come to work every day ready to put their brains, hearts, and courage to the test. A test they pass with flying colors!


SERVPRO of Black Hawk County’s technicians are highly trained and certified. They take their work seriously by making sure that they have the knowledge they need to mend people’s homes after a disaster. Their certifications are granted by the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification, also known as the IIRC, and through SERVPRO’s Employee Training Program (ECTP). Some of these include, but are not limited to:

  • Water Damage Restoration Technician (WRT)
  • Applied Microbial Remediation (AMRT)
  • Fire and Smoke Restoration Technician (FSRT)


Restoring homes and cleaning up mess is not something that the faint of heart choose as their line of work. Everyone on our crew has the heart and caring nature to decide to get up every day and come help put people’s lives back together. As a business that is open 24/7, our techs have the task of working on holidays and around the clock in certain situations. Their hard work does not go unnoticed by us, or our customers. As stated in an online review, “I must commend you on the fine young men who did the cleaning. They were very professional and made sure I knew what they were doing and how they were going to do it. They were very personable and easy to talk with.”. We are always appreciative of the heart they put into their work.


Our team most certainly has the courage to tackle the mess life has become after a fire or water problem in your home or business.  Courage is made up of strength from within one’s self, and it is evident that SERVPRO employees have this characteristic as they care for each other.  The clean-up they perform can be physically and emotionally draining. We witness their courage each day to continue the process to make life "Like it never even happened," for our customers.

We’ll help you click your heels and get you back home. Call us for help.

Balloons, Frogs, Thundersnow, Oh My!

8/10/2021 (Permalink)

Storm with weather guy, rain, and snow You might not believe it until you see it!

Storms can consist of many things. If you have read our blog, “multiple ways to define a storm”  
then you know the vast number of ways that you can explain the term “storm”. What I bet you didn’t know is that storms have some hidden unique attributes. Let me fill you in on all things storm.


Weather balloons are used to predict the weather. Hundreds of large balloons filled with 300 cubic feet of helium are released each day. Meteorologists all around the world use these balloons to help gauge critical measurements. Sensors will shoot data back down to earth while the balloons drift as high as 20 miles above the earth. You can read more about these interesting tools here.


If you are from the Midwest and even if you’re not, you probably are familiar with the term “blizzard” but have you heard of the term “thundersnow”? People tend to think of lighting and thunder as something that only comes with rain and other storms that happen more frequently in the summer. This is true, they do occur frequently in those circumstances, however it can lightning and thunder in the winter. It is commonly referred to as “thundersnow” and happens when a mass of air becomes so unstable that it turns over violently, usually due to two extremely different temperatures meeting.


While thundersnow is pretty unique, the phenomenon of it “raining frogs” may have it beat. It is something we often hear as a witty remark, and some people probably consider it a myth. The truth is, it is actually possible for it to rain frogs. This does not happen often, in fact, one of the last times it rained frogs was in 2005 in Serbia. If you don’t believe us, this article helps explain how it is indeed possible for it to rain frogs. 

Now you know, weather and storms have a mind of their own. Very much like in our own lives, things are not always black and white. The next time a storm rolls through, if the rain creeps into your basement or a tree falls on your roof causing a big mess, call SERVPRO so we can make it "Like it never even happened."

Multiple Ways to Define a Storm.

7/15/2021 (Permalink)

cream colored home with blue tarp over hole in roof During a storm, a tree branch falls and damages a homes room leaving a wet mess inside

A storm is a storm by any definition.
The description of a storm differs on who you ask. Most will recount a weather-related memory, while a few will talk about the act of force made by a person or group, and someone will refer to an unfortunate accident that altered their life. These are valid accounts that can be linked to the aftermath of problems and mess.

Forms of Storms
Storms come in all sizes and conditions and can affect numerous individuals, cities, in fact, to the point of labeling a catastrophe. SERVPRO of Black Hawk County is experienced in cleaning up in these circumstances.
After the ‘storm’ moves on, our work begins…
*A tree falls on a part of your roof, leaving a gaping hole, while the rain continues-We can remove soaked carpet, cleanup & remove damaged ceiling tiles, walls, and more.
*The electricity goes out for hours and your sump pump quits, while the rain continues-We will extract water from your flooded basement, use equipment to dry out the area and clean contents.
*Your business had a break in and shattered glass is spread out looking like rain puddles-We will board up the window to protect your belongings, and tear out carpet that has been affected.
*Your loved one has fallen and injured themselves, causing a discoloration mess on furniture and carpet in your home-We will determine if removal or cleaning is best suited for the items and care for it.

Storms Happen!
For the most part, everyone can agree a storm is a disruption of the norm- either weather related or a life issue. We wish neither of these on anyone! But unfortunately, we know they happen. And we are trained, certified, and ready to help with any storm that comes your way!

If you are in Cedar Falls, Waterloo, Hudson, Janesville and surrounding cities, Call SERVPRO of Black Hawk County at 319.268.1521, and we will be there for you!

I Don't Think We're in Kansas Anymore

7/14/2021 (Permalink)

Tornado Watch Sign in front of stormy sky Read the signs! Whether (or weather) that's literally or figuratively!

If you live in the Midwest, it might not cross your mind to be prepared for those nasty storms that can roll through the sky during the hot summer heat. 

The Art of Being Prepared

Just like individuals that live on the coast have to prepare when there is the word of possible hurricanes by boarding up windows and taking other necessary precautions, we too. here in Black Hawk County, have to be prepared in other ways. During summer here in the Midwest, there are multiple types of weather that we should look out for. One of the most common during this beautiful but humid season is tornadoes.

"Look at the Sky, It's So Green!" 

I’m sure you have experienced a moment where you are enjoying the great outdoors and the temperature suddenly drops, the wind picks up, and you see a nasty green hue in the sky. That is a quick sign that it is time to be prepared and take cover.

In the event that you are in a tornado watch or warning here are some SERVPRO tips that can help keep you calm and collected:

  • Educate your children on the difference between a tornado watch and warning, and make sure they know what county they are living in
  • Have a designated “safe room” – preferably a basement, or a low floor with no windows
  • Have essentials stored in your “safe room”
  • Have a flashlight with charged batteries on hand in case of a power outage
  • If you are stuck outside--find shelter right away, steer clear of highway overpasses and bridges
  • Do not try to outrun a tornado in your vehicle, instead find the closest building
  • Do NOT stay in a mobile home, find shelter somewhere secure

Here to Help!

Here at SERVPRO, we are here to help in many ways. Assisting you in being prepared is a big part of our passion!

The next time you look into the summer sky and see signs of a tornado, we hope these tips can help ease your mind and keep you and your loved ones safe! 

Don’t Let Sewer Sit in your Basement!

6/24/2021 (Permalink)

Don't Wait Don't let sewer water sit in your basement, call for help!


It is an overwhelming task to try to even figure out what to do if you come home to a basement that smells and has YUCK all over the floor. I get why someone would want to just close the basement door and ignore it. STILL. We recommend sucking in some fresh air from outside and get ready to handle a nasty situation. You can do this… with some help.


Sewer water is hazardous and we recommend staying away from it. Sewer water, also known as “Black water” may contain feces and bacteria that can affect your health. Once you realize you have a sewer issue, here are some steps you can take to the issue resolved.

  • Call a plumber. They can find out the source of the issue and fix it.
  • Call the city. Some city sewer lines can get backed up and be the reason for the sewer. They may provide a way to resolve the issue or provide financial help.
  • Call a Restoration and Cleanup service. SERVPRO can help clean your sewer “Like it never even happened.” We remove odor, wash floors and content, and SANITIZE.
  • Call your Insurance Agent. Your policy may cover the cost!

If you wait too long to resolve the issue, the damage may get worse, it can affect your health, and insurance might not cover the cost due to negligence.

We are here to help!

Must-have Apps during a storm disaster

6/11/2021 (Permalink)

a hand holding a phone with app icons on the phone’s screen. We <3 Safety apps.

It’s HOT. This week, it’s been so hot that our clothes seem to be stuck on us, permanently. You would hardly suspect a storm to come swooshing by. Luckily, technology has allowed us not to be hit by a sudden surprise when it comes to the weather and preparedness. SERVPRO of Black Hawk County has prepared a list of apps you can download today to keep you safe during a storm. These apps are available on Apple and Google Stores.


  • StormTrack7 (Local weather updates)
  • The Weather Channel
  • AccuWeather


  • Iowa 511 (Road conditions by the IOWA Department of Transformation)




  • Nextdoor (Connect with your neighbors.)


If there’s an app missing, let us know! Email us at

Hurricanes, Tornadoes and Derechos in Iowa.

8/28/2020 (Permalink)

3 Grain bins, where 2 are knocked on their side and blown in. Be aware of weather conditions and stay safe.

On August 10, 2020, Iowa experienced what felt like an inland hurricane. The storm we experienced is identified as a Derecho. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a derecho is a line of intense, widespread, and fast-moving windstorms and sometimes thunderstorms that move across a great distance and are characterized by damaging winds.

This natural disaster was unannounced and in just a few hours, homes and businesses were destroyed, crops were flattened, phone and electricity lines knocked down, trees uprooted, and semi-trucks toppled over. This was no small feat. Fortunately, nearby communities took notice and local SERVPROs requested help from the SERVPRO Storm Teams!

Weeks after the event, we are still seeing many disaster relief organizations, restoration companies, electrical companies, tree removal companies, and utility companies still hard at work aiding Iowa.

SERVPRO Cleans Up After Storm

SERVPRO of Black Hawk County is currently working on losses as a result of the derecho storm. One loss we are hoping to restore sooner than later is a middle school in Tama County, whose roof was torn off by the heavy winds. The classes received a lot of water damage. Water made its way inside the three-story building, knocking down ceiling tiles and soaking the carpets. There’s a lot of debris we need to clean up as well. We have rented out a power generator for an electrical source and a Desiccant generator to provide hot air in the building for a faster drying time. We are grateful to our team who is working in these conditions to help restore this important building.


  1. Stay tuned to local radio and TV stations for weather conditions.
  2. Stay indoors.
  3. Stay away from windows.
  4. Go to basement or an inside room with no windows on the lowest floor.

DID YOU KNOW? The word “derecho” is of Spanish origin but the first person to assign this word to this type of weather phenomenon was a professor of physics at the University of Iowa. His name is Gustavus Hinrichs.

Check out our Emergency Disaster Kit blog.


Have a Sump Pump or Grinder Pump? Get Sewer Insurance.

8/12/2020 (Permalink)

Black sludgy water in a bathroom. Do you have sewer backup insurance?

What kind of relationship do you have with your home insurance provider? Is your home insurance adequate or is it the bare minimum to check the list that you have insurance? When you become a homeowner, it’s required to have insurance and after putting a large sum of money on a house, you may have unknowingly cheated yourself with getting the basic package. In reality, the basic coverage most likely will not cover the total cost of home damage. SERVPRO doesn’t sell insurance but we understand the importance of it especially as a restoration business that receives many calls about home-related disasters. Frankly, restoration services are costly and not many have the means to pay out of pocket. We want to encourage you to discover more about your home coverage and ask more questions.

One insurance coverage that your insurance agent may not have mentioned is a sewer line coverage.

So why would you need a sewer line coverage? Do you know that it’s possible that the line in which carries all the nasty water from your toilet, sink, and shower to wherever the city sends it, can actually come back inside your home? Yep. You might have “black” water (essentially feces water) in your bathtub. “Ew” is right. We often get these types of losses after a heavy storm but there are several reasons it could happen. Here are 3 common reasons sewer back up occurs.

  1. A clog in the sewer lines. For example, Tree roots that grow in sewer pipes.
  2. A damaged sewer pipe like a crack or corrosion.
  3. Too much water inside the sewer lines.

Don’t have a sump pump? How about a Sewage Ejector (Grinder Pump)?

Most people are familiar with a sump pump but some of you may not know about your sewage ejector. We heard from our insurance friends that homeowners may opt-out of a sewer line coverage because they don’t have a floor drain or sump pump in their basement. Well, if you have a toilet in your basement and the city’s sewage line is above the sewer pipes, you may still have to consider it since you have an ejector pump system. It is the mechanical equipment that grinds solids and pumps the sludgy wastewater upward into the city’s main sewer line. The pump may malfunction if you flush down items that are not meant for a toilet or it can wear down over time. You will not know there’s a clog or issue until it’s too late. It’s good to consider sewer insurance coverage and maintenance check-ups on such equipment.

Smell sewage in your home? Be safe, stay away, and call a professional! 319-268-1521.

DIY Emergency Storm Kit

8/3/2020 (Permalink)

Dark clouds with lightning shooting downward to the dark ground. Be Ready & Prepared for a Storm.

Take some time to gather some items and create your own emergency kit! We’ve decided to put together three options from Basic to Extreme preparations. Preparing doesn’t mean you are paranoid; it means that you are mindful and perceptive!

Basic Kit (Must-haves Supplies)

  • First Aid Kit
  • Extra Battery
  • Flashlight
  • Battery-powered radio or hand-crank radio
  • Water, one gallon of water per person per day (at least 3 days)
  • Nonperishable food & snacks (at least 3 days’ worth)
  • Can opener for food
  • Wrench to turn off utilities
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Sanitation, toiletry and personal hygiene items
  • Family and Emergency Contact Information
  • Store items in waterproof book bags, duffel bags or containers

Intermediate (Being Extra)

  • All items in Basic Kit
  • Prescriptions and medications
  • A seven-day supply of water and non-perishable food
  • Candles & Matches in a waterproof container
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • Extra cash
  • Baby supplies
  • Pet supplies
  • Games & activities
  • Paper & Pen
  • Extra set of car and house keys
  • Blankets

Expert (Ready for a Zombie Apocalypse too)

  • All items in Basic and Intermediate Kit
  • Plastic Sheeting & duct tape
  • Portable Water Filter
  • Backup power generator
  • Scissors
  • Extra clothing & sturdy shoes
  • Sleeping Bags
  • Propane heater & camp stove (make sure it’s safe for indoor use)
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Emergency Light Sticks (12-hour duration)
  • Working Gloves
  • Sewing kit
  • Nylon Rope
  • Masks

Do not be intimidated by all the items for fear of cost. Most of these items, you can find at your local dollar store. We recommend you keep these items in a designated place where you can access it quickly. Prepare for a safer future!


Cons of a Finished Basement

7/16/2020 (Permalink)

Corner of a basement with water stains on the cement and carpet pulled around it. Basements are common areas of a home for water damage.

In our experience, the most common area of a home that we clean up after water damage in the basement. That’s why we kind of have to wonder whether it is even a good idea to finish a basement. So, in all honesty, this might not be a completely objective little read. We have cleaned up many homes in the Cedar Valley that have experienced flooding in their basement and usually, there aren’t too many warning signs. A 100-year-old home whose foundation may be compromised, or the city’s sewer lines backing up into your basement or the sump pump not being able to keep up with the heavy rain, are all unfortunate happenings. Sometimes, we even clean the same finished basement twice, or even three times from numerous issues. Yikes.  


You have more space where you can kick it back with your friends or a family room where you can spend quality time with your children or even a bedroom for that child who never wants to leave you. It can also increase the market value if you are thinking of selling it. 


  • It can be extremely expensive to finish your basement. 
  • A flood in your basement can add extra repair in restoring the basement.  
  • Flooding may destroy valuable and sentimental content.
  • If there’s a sewer back up, all content will not be saved. 
  • A humid basement can promote mold growth in areas that aren’t always noticeable. 
  • Over time, the foundation of the basement might settle and lead to water seepage. 

Healthy Homecan have a finished basement. 

Not every house will experience flooding or sewer backup in their basements. Since water restoration is our business, we often are a part of such issues but it doesn’t mean it will happen to your home. If you are considering finishing your basement or buying a home with a finished basement, we recommend you be super observant of the health of the home and ask as many questions as possible to avoid such a situation. (Does this neighborhood experience flooding? Have you ever had a water problem in the basement? Etc.) 

Water in your basement? Call us at 319-268-1521  

15 Questions to ask yourself before a Storm.

7/7/2020 (Permalink)

A tan woman with curly hair and glasses looks up in a pensive manner? Text that reads “Am I ready for a storm?” is on the top It is always better to be safe than sorry. 

As a mature and experienced human being, precautionary measures are normal! I mean, it is always better to be safe than sorry, right? Our goal is to get you thinking about situations that might not cross your mind until it’s panic time! Ponder these questions; get prepared with your answers. Alleviate problems to be better set for whatever happens. 

1. Am I prepared for a storm? 

2. Do I have a Storm Emergency Kit? 

3. How will I stay connected to local media in a power outage? 

4. Do I have perishable food? 

5. Have I discussed with my family about emergency plans?  

6. Do I have homeowners and flood insurance? 

7. Who are my insurance provider and local insurance agent? 

8. Does my insurance cover mold? 

9. Do I understand what my insurance covers? 

10. What is my deductible? 

11. Should I invest in a higher premium to ensure the protection of my home at a lower cost? 

12. Do I know how to turn off my utilities? 

13. Have I set money aside for disaster emergencies? 

14. Are my important documents protected from water damage? 

15. What will happen to my sump pump if there was a power outage? 

Your Safety is Important to Us. We can help you answer these questions and set you up with a complimentary Emergency Ready Plan (ERP). You can download the ERP app at 

Water Damage? Call us at 319-268-1521. 

6 Useful Tips for Heavy Rains

6/16/2020 (Permalink)

Black and white image of water droplets on a dark surface. Orange SERVPRO logo is in the foreground. Heavy Rainfall can bring forth floods. Beware.

There’s something about rain that can be very soothing and calming. It might even bring an inviting melancholy mood as we reminisce happy memories while listening to the rain’s pitter-patter but let’s be cautious. Days of rain, especially heavy rains, can lead to experiences that no one, EVER, wants to think about again. Unfortunately, flooding and sewer back up in your basement can be a result of heavy rain.

What is Heavy Rain?

If you were born and raised in the Midwest, have a monthly subscription of the Farmer’s Almanac, or have a rain gauge in your front yard, you may already know what’s considered heavy rain… According to the National Weather Service, Heavy rainfall is more than .49 inches of rainfall per hour. Heavy rainfall in a short amount of time can lead to flash floods that can damage homes and farmland. We want to share a few tips in case rain wants to sneak inside your home.

Safety Tips during Heavy Rains

  1. Check your basement for any water seepage.
  2. Check on your sump pump and make sure it’s working. Consider getting a battery-operated one as a backup.
  3. If you use your basement as storage, make sure your treasured contents are inside durable waterproof totes.
  4. Make sure your humidifier in the basement is on.
  5. Always have an emergency kit ready for any type of disaster.
  6. Listen up to the weather forecasts on local media.

Beware of Floods

Visit for Flood Safety Tips! This is a great resource to better prepare yourself in case heavy rainfall leads to flooding inside your home and neighborhood. Something really important to consider is your home insurance and whether it covers flood or water damage and to which extent.

If you experienced water damage inside your home, give SERVPRO of Black Hawk County a call.

We are here to help. Call 319.268.1521.

Tornadoes and High Winds in the Midwest

4/1/2020 (Permalink)

Scenic view of a valley with a tornado on one side of the image and lighting on the other. Iowa experiences frequent tornadoes, are you prepared?

Although we are not in tornado season yet, in late March, we had two tornadoes touch ground in Black Hawk County, two in Fayette County, one in Dubuque County and one in Buchanan County, all confirmed by the National Weather Service. According to the Associated Press News, we weren’t the only state who tornadoes paid a visit to.

We want to remind you to be safe and take a proactive step in preparing for a tornado. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is doing an excellent job of updating us on the safety and prevention of the coronavirus, meanwhile, they also have provided resources for Preparing for a Tornado.


For locals, you may know a lot of this information but if you are new to the Midwest, here are a few safety tips to consider before and during a tornado watch.

  • Keep important documents and phone numbers in a waterproof Ziplock bag in your basement.
  • Put together an emergency safety kit.
  • Use battery-powered radio for emergency information in case the electricity goes out.
  • Take shelter – Avoid areas with windows and take shelter in the basement or the lowest floor.
  • Charge your phone before a storm and put it in Battery Saver mode during a storm to conserve the battery life.

More safety tips – Tornado Safety Guide

How can SERVPRO help you after tornado damage?

Although our business is to clean up after disasters, this does not mean we wish it upon anyone. Disasters happen and we are here to help. We work closely with your insurance agent, keeping everyone in the loop of our services. Here are a few of our services relating to tornado damage or storm damage.

  • Tarp a roof
  • Board ups
  • Water Damage Restoration
  • Fire Damage Restoration
  • Sewage Cleanup
  • Content Cleaning

STORM DAMAGE? Call us at (319) 268-1521.

September - Prepared, Not Scared

9/5/2019 (Permalink)

Orange and green clouds with droplets of water running down the image and large white text that reads “SERVPRO, NATIONAL PREP Make sure your family is ready for any type of disaster.

A disaster can be scary but this year,’s theme for National Preparedness month is PREPARED, NOT SCARED.

Huge fires, loud thunderstorms, rising waters can all be extremely frightening but being prepared for it can definitely lessen the fear. SERVPRO can clean up materials after a disaster but there are some things that we can never restore, like someone’s life. It’s important that you and your family talk over the possibility of a flood, fire, or extreme weather situation to protect what matters the most.

Here are 7 things you can do to prepare for a Disaster.

  1. Make a savings plan for when a disaster strike.
  2. Review your Insurance Coverage.
  3. Talk to your Insurance agent about Flood Insurance.
  4. Document your personal property.
  5. Create an evacuation plan for your home in case of a disaster and practice it with your family.
  6. Create a family emergency kit that includes contact info, medication, and supplies.
  7. Have an emergency communication plan.

We are available 24/7 for your Emergency Needs! In case of a severe weather disaster in the community, we have a Storm Response Team on standby. If you don’t have a plan, it’s not too late to start.

Visit for more information on how you can prepare for all types of disasters.

How we remove odor with an OZONE GENERATOR?

8/21/2019 (Permalink)

Yellow warning Label with bold text on an overhead door. OZONE GENERATOR IN USE!! Warning Label in our warehouse where we are removing smoke odor from contents that belong to a property in Decorah, IA.

There are some odors that are not easily removed by a DIY method especially if it’s been affected by a terrible storm, water, or fire incident. Even so, cleaning it up yourself might not even be an option due to the quantity of content or a busy life. We are here to help. We can remove tough odors from homes, furniture, cherished memorabilia, jewelry, purses, and even clothes. What is our secret?

What is the secret to removing tough odors?

It’s no secret at all. We remove really tough odors with an OZONE GENERATOR. We have multiple ozone generators currently in our equipment warehouse. An ozone generator is a machine that splits apart oxygen to generate OZONE with electrical charges. Ozone is composed of 3 oxygen molecules, where the third molecule detaches itself and reattaches to other substances like tough odors. This happens naturally during a thunderstorm. The lighting splits oxygen in the air producing ozone which leaves a “fresh” scent. Ozone changes the chemistry of odors. So, in layman’s terms, BYE SMELL-LICIA!!


  1. We take the ozone generator inside unoccupied homes. Most common places are inside a basement that may have experienced sewer backup or extreme mold damage. If a home has experienced fire damage, we will use the ozone generator to eliminate smoke odor.
  2. We use it inside our warehouse to remove odors from a large amount of content. This is especially true when the home or business may be in the reconstruction phase. We have a room with shelves to organize content and poles to hang clothes. We then put our ozone generator inside the room and tightly seal the room. We will always leave a warning sign that the ozone generator is in use and the reentry date/time.

The generator we use is a SERVPRO 771 Ozone generator. It is durable, has a built-in 12-hour timer and can cover up to 120,000 CU/FT. This ozone generator creates a large amount of ozone allowing for fast and efficient treatment.

WARNING! Ozone exposure can be harmful to the body.

Our team is highly trained in Cleaning and Restoration by the IICRC or Institute of Inspection and Restoration Certification in order to use this equipment properly. Such a tool is only beneficial if we are responsible and use it as it is intended. We make sure that the ozone generator is timed off at least 20 minutes before reentry and the room is aired out. If you would like to know more about ozone generators, click HERE.

If you have any questions or concerns about removing odor, please give us a call at 319.268.1521 or send us a message by clicking the chat button located on the bottom right of your screen.

“Snake” your Floor Drain or Pit to prevent backup sewage

7/30/2019 (Permalink)

Finished Basement’s floor drain or pit is about to be “snaked” or cleared out.


A few weeks ago, we received an emergency call from a home in Waterloo about a possible sewage problem after a rainstorm. The unfinished basement was filling up with water and the homeowners had no control over it. Apparently, the floor drain was so clogged up that it wasn’t only filling up with their sewage but the neighbor’s sewage was coming in as well. We know… What a nightmare! For this type of water, it is not safe for anyone who isn’t trained or have the equipment to have contact with it. It can be very dangerous especially for your health. This type of water is called “blackwater” and it can contain unsanitary agents and harmful bacteria. Our crew uses safety precaution when dealing with such a job. Needless to say, we completed the job quickly and successfully.


A question that came up during this job is, why did this happen and how can it be prevented? Sewage pipes can get clogged with oils, food, hair, soap residue, and even tree roots. We recommend that you clear out or “snake” your floor drain with a professional! At least that is what one of our employees did as soon as she walked out of this job site. She said it was the best money she spent for some peace of mind. Her floor drain looked almost identical to the one on the sewage job so it really shocked her. Unlike that basement, her basement is finished so if an unexpected sewage disaster were to happen, it would mean more content to clean, dispose of and possibly more costly to fix the problem. So yes, think about snaking your floor drain.

Here are a few more things to do to prevent your drains from being clogged.

  • Keep toilets, sinks, and drains clean.
  • Do not flush feminine products, diapers, or wet wipes down the toilet.
  • Use a mesh in a shower to trap the hair from going down the drain.
  • Do not pour fats or coffee grounds down the sink.
  • Do not put large food waste down your garbage disposal.

Make sure you direct the professional snaking your drain to clear it all the way to the street where it goes out into the public sewer system. And as a side note, find out if your Home Insurance has coverage for possible issues with your service line.

If you experienced a backup or flooding, Give us a call at 319.268.1521. We are here to help.

Board Ups to the Rescue in any kind of Storm!

7/18/2019 (Permalink)

We can board-up home or business and keep your property safe from looters.

The word STORM can take on several different meanings.  It can refer to weather-related events, major life occurrences, and it describes emotionally packed situations. Doesn’t it always feel like a storm has hit when life gets turned upside down!?

Whether fire, rain or wind problems have caused a window, door or roof to leave a gaping hole in your home or business, SERVPRO of Black Hawk County can help by covering it up.

When vandals and varmints have created an unfortunate mess, leaving your home or business vulnerable, SERVPRO of Black Hawk County can assist by closing it up.

Commercial properties are exposed to hazards of automobiles running into them or destructive items like rocks or bricks thrown through a window. We have the skills and knowledge to board up these unexpected conditions.

We will be sure that the board-up procedures provide durable protection for the damaged structure and cause minimal additional damage to building surfaces. After protecting and securing the structure, our professionals can begin the restoration process.

SERVPRO of Black Hawk County can provide a full range of restoration services that will bring your home or business back to full function. Here are a few necessary aids we provide:

  • Board Up
  • Carpet Extraction or Removal
  • Document Drying
  • Drywall Removal
  • Electronics Restoration
  • Furniture Restoration
  • General Contracting
  • Hardwood Floor Drying
  • Pack Up and Move Out

Along with the physical work SERVPRO of Black Hawk County offers, our team of employees recognizes the storm of emotions that home and business owners go through during these crises. It takes special individuals who understand, empathizes, listens, and hold out their hand to walk you to the completion of the project, making it "Like it never even happened".

If your property is in need of board-up services, give SERVPRO of Black Hawk County a call. Day or night, we will assist you. 319.268.1521

Sump Pump Maintenance before a Thunderstorm

6/26/2019 (Permalink)

A close up shot of the inside of floor drain with a sump pump installation. Maintenance on your sump pump can help avoid a wet basement during a thunderstorm.

Thunderstorms are looming over the Cedar Valley

Summer is starting off with Scattered Thunderstorms according to the weather forecast for Waterloo, IA, and Cedar Falls, IA. Hopefully, that doesn’t ruin too much of our summer plans and to make sure nothing worsens… like a flooded basement… SERVPRO of Black Hawk County wants to remind you to check your sump pump.


Thunderstorms can bring forth rain, floods, strong winds, hail, tornadoes, and of course lighting. Here are a few tips on some preventative things you can do before a thunderstorm to try to avoid a flooded basement due to a sump pump failure.

  • Check to see if the floatation device is not lodged from debris build-up or simply wearing out.
  • Remove debris, especially after heavy rainfall.
  • Test the floatation device by pouring water into the sump basin to trigger the pump. The float should move freely and the sump pump will activate when the water gets high enough. Let the pump remove most of the water and make sure it shuts off when the water is only a few inches deep.
  • Repeat this test one more time.
  • If the pump fails to operate smoothly, the float switch or entire pump may require repair or replacement
  • Check to see that the intake screen or discharge pipe is not clogged.
  • Purchase a battery-operated pump or have a generator to use if the pump were to stop due to power failure.
  • Regularly check on your sump pump.


Remember that during a thunderstorm, please avoid touching metal and water since electricity can travel through. We hope this helps keep your basement dry but if your basement does get wet or currently has some water damage, please give us a call at (319) 268-1521 and we will make it “Like it never even happened.”

Phone a Friend When You Leave for Vacation

5/11/2019 (Permalink)

Vacation should remain worry-free when you have a responsible neighbor watching over your home.

As summer approaches, we want to encourage you to recruit a friendly neighbor to check more than mail while you’re away on vacation. We’ve seen it all too many times where people will leave for a short week, for the vacation of a lifetime, only to find a disaster waiting in their basement as they return.

But it doesn’t have to be like that…

Many times, when people “check-in” to see if a vacant home is okay, they’ll peak around the main level and assume everything is okay. We encourage the friendly neighbor to walk down into the basement to check for any water that may have leaked in overnight. After you confirm the basement is dry, we suggest checking the furnace room as well to ensure the heating and cooling systems are “A-Okay” as well.

Be Proactive

With so many things that can go wrong in life, we want to encourage you to be proactive. Call SERVPRO of Black Hawk County, immediately, if you do find water in your basement. As always, we’ll be here to help.

When Spring Storms Keep You Indoors - Spring Cleaning Tips

4/21/2019 (Permalink)

Sponges ready. It's spring cleaning time.

Here’s a checklist to reference as you tackle the fun task of spring cleaning:

Whole Home

  • Change smoke alarm batteries
  • Clean/polish fixtures
  • Clean mirrors and glass
  • Clean rugs, floors & baseboards
  • Dust/polish furniture
  • Dust bookshelves; donate books
  • Dust light fixtures & bulbs
  • Replace old light bulbs
  • Wipe walls & ceilings
  • Wash curtains
  • Wash light fixtures/ceiling fans
  • Wash windows

Living Room

  • Organize room clutter
  • Shampoo sofa cushions


  • Clean & sanitize sink
  • Clean & sanitize tubs, shower & toilet
  • Clean out the medicine cabinet
  • Clean under the bathroom sink
  • Dispose of expired medicine


  • Clean & sanitize sink
  • Clean appliances (inside and out)
  • Clean oven
  • Clean pantry; toss old food
  • Clean refrigerator/freezer
  • Polish stainless-steel appliances
  • Wash cabinet (inside and out)


  • Clean garage
  • Clean gutters
  • Clean house siding
  • Clean patio furniture
  • Clean porch/deck/patio
  • Landscaping
  • Seal driveway
  • Wash/inspect light fixtures


  • Clean out closets & donate
  • Put away winter bedding
  • Rotate mattress
  • Wash bedding

If you need any help with deep cleaning in your carpets, we'd be happy to help. Please call (319) 268-1521.

There's No Place Like Home!

9/18/2018 (Permalink)

Our Job File Coordinator using the software Xactimate.

It’s a twister, it’s a twister! When a storm hits don’t call around from place to place to see who claims to have the lowest remediation cost; SERVPRO of Black Hawk County uses the industry standard program called Xactimate to calculate the estimate of your loss. Remediation companies and insurance adjusters across the board are using Xactimate to calculate cost. So rather than making dozens of frustrating phone calls, make your first call to your locally owned SERVPRO helping individuals and businesses in Black Hawk, Bremer, Grundy, Buchanan, Fayette and Tama counties. Connect by calling 319.268.1521.

It’s more important to begin the remediation process as soon as possible and when the chaos of a storm hits, our whole team will be doing their part. A vital position in our local office is the Job File Coordinator. They organize the calls that come in ensuring from the moment you meet our project manager to production technicians cleaning up the storm mess to final paperwork including insurance details, you’re taken care of by SERVPRO to 100% satisfaction.

You can trust in SERVPRO to get your home feeling like home again.  As we know, there’s no place like home.

Are you prepared?

7/30/2018 (Permalink)

  1. What’s in your basement that you would be devastated to lose? MOVE IT!
  • Tubs are helpful but not a ‘for sure’ method of something being saved because they can flip upside down!
  • Be sure your sump pump is on its own electric circuit. Have a battery operated one for a true back up!
  • Keep it at least 3-4ft off the floor. Shelving at these heights can be more helpful for storage.
  1. Where are your important documents, pictures, passwords/usernames, codes, keys?
  • Make sure you have copies in a lock box at a different location than your home.
  • Use flash drives, DVD's, or CD’s along with a notebook entry. Keep a copy with someone else and in the lockbox.
  1. How many items do you have plugged into electrical outlets?
  • Do you regularly leave your phone charger plugged in WITHOUT the phone? A growing number of fires caused this way!
  • Know the amps available in your home. Just because there is an outlet doesn’t mean you can plug multiple items into all of them and carry the load without it causing an issue.

The lesson is don't keep your most important items in your basement because it's the most likely place to endure a loss.

For further questions, contact SERVPRO of Black Hawk County at (319) 268-1521.

Emergency Ready Vehicle

7/23/2018 (Permalink)

Thank your local American Red Cross for all of the amazing work they do.

SERVPRO of Black Hawk County and the American Red Cross (ARC) are working together to ensure the Emergency Ready Vehicle (ERV) is equipped to serve the community in times of need.

Who’s ERV?

ERV brings supplies such as water and blankets to families who have recently encountered a disaster. When not in use, ERV is plugged in as a means to keep it charged and ready to go. Many of the calls that ERV responds to are storm and weather related. 

Opportunity Around the Bend  

Marketing Manager at SERVPRO of Black Hawk County, Debbie Robeson, came across the opportunity to house ERV after being on the Red Cross volunteer community board for almost a year. At the December Holiday party, she heard them talking about the woes of ERV being outside in the elements and how it was limiting them responding to emergencies quickly. Debbie said, “I asked Scott about keeping ERV with us and he was quick to say YES.”

The process started in January and required approval from ARC national headquarters in Washington DC. SERVPRO of Black Hawk County had to meet insurance requirements, upgrade security, and add key code access to their building. The contract was approved in March and the ERV arrived on April 24, 2018.

Looking Ahead

The ARC is looking to replace the current ERV in about year. With the rapid advancement of technology, a new one is overdue. With the help of fundraising, the ARC has already raised over $200,000 for the new vehicle.

Much Praise

Debbie spoke praises of her team when saying, “Scott’s leadership and trust in his team and how they pursue opportunities is a key part of making this possible. His passion for the community and being on the same page helped get this out together so quickly before someone else heard of the opportunity.”

Call for Backup

7/23/2018 (Permalink)

No job is too big for SERVPRO.

In the recent weeks, we have done a fair share of traveling outside of our assigned territory in order to help our neighbors and meet the demand. Just this summer, we have traveled to Mason City and Des Moines to assist with flash flooding.


The “Cool Factor” regarding SERVPRO is our phone tree. If one franchise cannot help a customer, they will pass the call along to another franchise nearby. No other restoration company is the COUNTRY does this. We pride ourselves in having the manpower to handle anything.

Wait, there’s more?

As if that wasn’t cool enough, we even have access to a disaster relief team during very large disasters such as the floods of 2008, 2010, and 2016. In these cases, an entire semi load of equipment is shipped to the disaster area in addition to a full-fledged disaster crew.

Be proactive.

If you are hit by flooding, do not wait to call. Too often water losses turn into mold losses because action isn’t taken. Give us a call before the situation gets out of hand. 

DIY Emergency Kit

7/10/2018 (Permalink)

In an emergency, what goes through your head in the 30 seconds you have to run to the basement? Maybe something like, “Where are the kids?!”, “Honey, grab the flashlights!”, and maybe, “Where’s my phone?”

In such a short time slot, it’s hard to think clearly, let alone think of everything you might need when heading for the basement. That’s why SERVPRO of Black Hawk wants you to have a Do It Yourself (DIY) Emergency Kit ready to go in times like this.

Emergency kits vary, but most are pretty similar. We recommend having the following on hand in your basement in an easy-access location:

  • Food: enough non-perishable items for your entire family for 3 days
  • Can opener—so you can actually eat the food
  • Water: 1 gallon per person for at least 3 days
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlights with fresh batteries
  • Blankets
  • Battery powered or hand crank radio
  • Phone chargers
  • Tennis shoes and socks
  • Extra pair of clothes for each family member
  • Candle and matches

Emergency kits are great for your home, car, and even workplace. They can be as big or small as you want.

We recommend re-evaluating and updating your kit every year. Depending on who’s living in your home with you, and the needs may change. Also, the food may expire, so swapping it out with fresh food is a great idea.

If you experience any storm damage, don’t hesitate to call SERVPRO of Black Hawk County. We’re here to help.


When Storms or Floods hit anywhere from Black Hawk County to New Hampton, or even Grundy Center, SERVPRO is ready!

5/25/2018 (Permalink)

Life comes crashing in-THROUGH the CEILING! Our highly trained crews are ready to respond 24/7 to storm or flood damage in Black Hawk County.

SERVPRO of Black Hawk County specializes in storm and flood damage cleanup.  Our crews are highly trained and we use specialized equipment to restore your property to its pre-storm condition.

Faster Response

Since we are locally owned and operated by Scott and Libby Demuth, we are able to respond quicker with the right resources, which is extremely important. A fast response lessens the damage, limits further damage, and reduces the restoration cost.

Resources to Handle Floods and Storms

When storms hit Black Hawk County or anywhere between New Hampton and Grundy Center, we can scale our resources to handle a large storm or flooding disaster. We can access equipment and personnel from a network of 1,700 Franchises across the country and elite Disaster Recovery Teams that are strategically located throughout the United States. That’s SERVPRO Strong!

Have Storm or Flood Damage? Call Us Today, SERVPRO of Black Hawk County, 319.268.1521