The warehouse flood – True stories

Here is a story I would like to share with you from my career.

This was very early in my career. It was the third rainy day in my country, nothing strange for this part of the year. I was in a meeting and started getting calls from my warehouse team. After I rejected the call three times and they kept on calling, I picked up:

β€œThere is a lot of water coming into the warehouse, come quick!”

I excused myself and rushed to the warehouse. There was a full stream of rainwater coming straight into our warehouse. Even though the warehouse was a bit on a hill, the water refused to pass by and go further down.

This was our UHT milk warehouse. We were stocking about 600 pallets, approximately 400 Tons of milk. The GM and the complete management team were on site once I informed them about the situation.

We borrowed two more forklifts from a neighbouring company and started the race against time. Just making sure no accidents happen while the forklifts were rushing at full speed in and out was a challenge in itself.

Once the water was so high that electrical forklifts could not go in, we continued using the one diesel operated we had. All of us went into the cold water, unpacked the pallets and moved the cases that were still not underwater.

I came out last, once the water was above 1 meter deep. There was a danger that the windows might blast and drown us. We managed to save over 60% of the stock within an hour.

The flood filled our warehouse after some time up to the ceiling and caused as well significant damage to the factory itself. The cleaning took us over a week. We had to open every pack and empty it, as throwing milk straight into the garbage is illegal. Imagine the smell once they would start getting bad πŸ™‚

Bottom line: Yes, risk assessment exercises are boring and seem useless. But this is like insurance. You are paying in hope that it never happens. If it does, You feel so lucky that you were prepared. In our case, some sandbags and shovels could help us to push the water downhill and save the day. Not for the factory, which was built in a valley.

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