Remembering the Chelsea Flood of 1985

Remembering the Chelsea Flood of 1985


Longtime Chelsea worker John McCarthy remembers the disastrous Chelsea Clock manufacturing unit flood in an essay titled All the pieces  was  Floating.


It was Wednesday August 12, 1985. I was sleeping peacefully simply earlier than midnight when my spouse woke me with information that there was a safety breach at Chelsea Clock. ADT was on the cellphone.

Torrential rains had been flooding the world all day, and a basement sump-pump failure was alerting the safety system of a malfunction.

Leaving my city of Winthrop shortly after midnight in my miniature Hyundai was not a good suggestion. Because it turned on the market was no method for me to navigate the flooded parkways. Returning dwelling once more I borrowed my son’s Chevy Blazer which had four-wheel drive. Then, to keep away from parkways, I traversed by East Boston, which was flooded, however satisfactory.

I lastly arrived on the manufacturing unit simply earlier than 1 am and each Everett Avenue and Carter Avenue have been inundated with stalled automobiles in each instructions. I parked simply outdoors the primary gate. The yard was so flooded it might have been inconceivable to get by the storage door.

As soon as inside, the ADT management panel revealed that at the very least 4 basement movement detectors had been activated. I attempted to get to the basement however my makes an attempt at doing so safely proved futile. The water stage was rising above the decrease stairwell. Illumination from my flashlight and the dim stairway mild revealed that down on the decrease stage, the whole lot was floating.

Pressured to retreat to the primary workplace, I notified the ADT dispatcher of our dilemma and instructed him the manufacturing unit can be coated by onsite personnel for the remainder of the night time. He mentioned he would notify the Chelsea Hearth division accordingly. Then I known as my spouse, who was awake and dutifully involved about my whereabouts.

At this early hour I selected to not name Chelsea administration personnel, because the state of affairs was merely not manageable at present time — and the necessity for all recent palms can be crucial come daytime. (Should you’ve by no means slept in a swivel chair with ft resting on a desk, belief me, you haven’t missed something. Ha!)

By 5 am I started making calls to our firm officers and division supervisors. Manufacturing supervisor Ed Dunn was the primary to reach shortly after 6. Evidently, Ed was shocked, (as I used to be) on the deplorable circumstances within the basement.

In daylight we might see that the whole lot buoyant was floating previous us, contained in the manufacturing unit and out. The floor water was black with oil from our overturned drums, and the overflow from the adjoining junk yards. The horrific sight was accompanied by the acrid odor of ruptured doldrums (acetic acid, plus hydrochloric and chromic acids).

I returned dwelling at 8 am, and loved a hearty breakfast with my ever-dutiful partner and then returned to the manufacturing unit at midday. By then the storm had subsided and an military of metropolis, state and federal company workers had descended on our manufacturing unit. The Environmental Safety Company (EPA), designated the world as a hazardous waste concern, and assigned a licensed website skilled to observe and oversee the cleanup and disposal.

At 1 pm, Clear Harbors arrived with two large tanker vehicles and began vacuuming the floor oil and acid residues from the manufacturing unit basement and exterior yard. The excellent news was that the flood waters started receding, and by 6 pm, the bottom was naked once more apart from an oil slick that was handled with Speedi Dri.

Early on Friday morning, the method of assessing the harm started with the arrival of a consultant from the insurance coverage provider. It was mutually agreed that something beneath the four-foot stage had to get replaced or repaired to its unique situation. This included hundreds of in-process clocks, clock elements, uncooked materials, equipment, motors, massive and small instruments, lacquer, steam boilers, degreasing tools, worker private belongings — to not point out misplaced labor prices as a result of short-term shutdown of basement manufacturing. It was clear we would want knowledgeable cleanup firm to make sure the standard of the restoration.

Per week later, as lead supervisor, I submitted a bodily property harm checklist to the accounting division. Injury was estimated at over $300,000, and didn’t even embrace the invoice from Clear Harbors or the cleanup firm mandated by the insurance coverage provider. The excellent news (if there was any) was that our insurance coverage coverage flood-damage deductible was underneath $10,000.

The whole cleanup took between eight and ten weeks and was signed off as passable by the EPA. Line manufacturing resumed by October, practically two full months after the catastrophic occasion, but simply in time to finish vacation orders.

As soon as  once more, Chelsea Clock workers had rallied collectively to overcome a potential  catastrophe.


Learn extra concerning the historic trials of our manufacturing unit right here.