September 11, 2017 posted by Unity Wellington

The Great Flood, 28th January 2015

The Great Flood, 28th January 2015

As we were minding our afternoon business, we noticed a trickle of water coming in through the ceiling of the office. Dylan rushed upstairs to where renovations were taking place to see if the water could be turned off – but by the time he returned with the bad news that something had burst, the trickle had become a waterfall. All the staff jumped into action, evacuating customers, cutting the power and trying desperately to save computers, paperwork and THE BOOKS!

Passing Fire Service officers (that’s right, no alarms activated) came to the rescue with tarpaulins and extra hands, and managed to turn of the water main, but a lot of damage was done and the office, storeroom and back third of the store remained out of bounds behind plastic barrier walls for a significant amount of time. Heroic efforts were made by current and past staff to get the shop into some semblance of order and we re-opened with a somewhat chaotic and cramped shop four days later.

The hard work of assessing books for damage, fixing the water damage, cleaning up, repainting, replacing stock and eventually having a proper re-opening was made easier by a more welcome flood – of messages of support, cards and food to keep us going.

There’s no photos of the early stages, as we were all too busy in salvage mode.

The fire crew bring tarpaulins to protect tables of books.

Water and some of the ceiling on the floor.

Waterfall in the office.

Piles of books everywhere.

NZ Fiction survived unscathed.

Jane Harris was one of the ex-Unity crew who showed up to help.

Kathryn Carmody, another Unity old-girl came for the clean-up.

Wiping the shelves.

Assessing books for damage.

Becky Popham shelves books in a temporary location.

Creating temporary shelves for displaced children’s books.

Maggie White and Jane Harris creating temporary order.

Matt Bialostocki in the “book sauna” where the damaged carpet was being steamed clean and dried.

The temporary configuration in the front part of the shop.

Unity’s weekend re-jig crew celebrate the end of a long day.

Tobias Buck, Tamsin Grigg, Laura Munro, Maddy Brown, Rachel Graham, Becky Popham and Maggie White.

Courtney Smith removing the plastic wall after the drying out process.

Reuniting the shop.

Paul Millar fixing shelves in the back room.

Repainting after the flood.

Our advertisement for the “condensed version” of Unity Books.

Our advertisement when we were able to fully re-open the whole shop.

We really felt the love of the community in the following days with Nikau Cafe, Lonely Planet, Metro New World and various individuals providing us with fuel for the clean-up.

An article about the flood in the Dominion Post.

Related media: TVNZ

Dominion Post


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Unity Books Wellington - Proudly committed to local writing and publishing since 1967, and dedicated to keeping a dangerous variety of world literature too. 100% independent and Wellington owned. Come check us out at 57 Willis St and ask the staff for a recommendation - we know our books.

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