A road to recovery
Flood-stricken practice owner talks about lessons learned
May 01, 2011
NASHVILLE, TENN. — Crossing your fingers and hoping it never happens to you is not an effective disaster management plan.
Dr. Jill Burgess, owner of the Animal Hospital of West Nashville, hopes her story will convince other practice owners that disaster preparedness is key.
Last May, her practice, which she bought almost four years ago, was in the path of a 1,000-year flood in Nashville. The practice—the second-oldest in Tennessee, dating back to the mid-1920s—was destroyed by four to five feet of water. The clinic "filled up like a water balloon."
Fast-forward to November, and Burgess moved back in to her newly renovated practice after having to rebuild and replace nearly everything. She had practice insurance, but no flood insurance at the time of the flood.
Construction costs to rebuild after the flood totaled about $35,000, but Burgess says the larger cost came in replacing the $100,000 worth of inventory and equipment lost to the flood. She estimates she easily lost 75 percent of her inventory. Some equipment was lost to the flood, but other pieces that were salvaged are just now failing because of the exposure to moisture.
The economic loss will be most significant, she estimates, guessing it will add up to more than $200,000, though she won't know for certain for a few more months.
"As difficult as it is, be the one who approves what is thrown away or (delegate the duty) to very trusted and knowledgeable people," she says. "A bunch of stuff was thrown away that was still good, maybe just muddy."
Burgess is still finding things missing as she works to reorganize her practice.
"I still feel like I'm reinventing the wheel. We just have to rethink everything and, honestly, get the groove back. A lot of things you don't really truly recognize as missing until you're going along and need them," Burgess says. "It's really easy to get overwhelmed. It feels like you are going one step forward and two steps back most days."