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Water Damage Data Recovery: All Data Recovered After Laptop Spends Days in a Flood

Laptop from Russian River flood needed water damage data recovery

When Mark Belhumeur went to bed on Feb. 26, he knew a flood was coming.

The rain had been falling for days in Northern California. The ground was saturated, the Russian River was rising and some flooding was imminent.

But, Belhumeur didn’t know it would be the worst flood on the river in a quarter century and that the rising water would put AutoCamp – Glamping – at risk of being swept away.

Luckily, the hotel was moveable. It consisted of two dozen luxury Airstream trailers situated on the edge of the river about 90 miles from San Francisco. The camp sits above a scenic Sonoma County waterway that runs through wine country en route to the Pacific Ocean, a dozen miles away.

“On the night before, the weather forecast came out and said it (the river) was going to rise to 39 feet,” Belhumeur said. “We knew what that meant. The last time Guerneville (the nearest town) was flooded was 2017 and it came to 37 feet and we were not underwater. So, we didn’t think we were in danger.”

By morning, the forecast was for the river to get much worse and crest at 46 feet. Immediate action had to be taken or the hotel was a goner.

Those fancy – and expensive – trailers had to be protected.

“It’s not as simple as just hooking up a truck and hauling them,” he explained. “We organized a team of employees to move the decks, furniture and plants away from the trailers so they could haul the trailers to safer ground.”

The water in the camp was still rising as the night ran out.

“We did our best,” Belhumeur said. “We worked until 11 o’clock at night when we were standing in two feet of water and realized we couldn’t pull any others out. We got 19 of 24 trailers out.”

So far, so good. But then, they realized that one of the flooded trailers had a bigger problem.

“What we didn’t get out, foolishly, was the administrative trailer. We had three offices in the trailer, one being mine,” Belhumeur explained. “We were so focused on getting those $100,000 guest trailers out, it didn’t dawn on anybody to get the office trailer.”

The office, which also housed the communications system, got hit hard. Everything was soaked.

“The computers, the phone systems, all of the Internet stuff got flooded,” he said. “You name it, every piece of equipment, every piece of furniture was under eight feet of water.”

Belhumeur didn’t know where to turn, but a colleague reached out to a friend who knew someone they thought could help. It was DriveSavers.

DriveSavers, where data recovery was pioneered in 1985, has a history of helping disaster victims recover personal and business information. The specialized services from DriveSavers are designed to deal with any failed device, including water-damaged computers, cell phones, tablets and external hard drives.

“It was absolutely a seamless effort. Not that I had even any time to worry about it, because there were so many things that had to be done,” Belhumeur explained. “I was working off my iPhone; that was the only computer I had.”

A few days passed.

“Then I get a call from customer service at DriveSavers. They said that they had the office computer and that it was a filthy mess. However, they were able to retrieve a lot of data off the hard drive, a lot of files,” Belhumeur said. “And, it was very pleasant. Very much like a dream. Honest to God. The whole experience with DriveSavers was like a dream. Effortless. Like I didn’t have to do a darn thing.

“I plugged it in, followed all of the instructions to back up the backup, which I did, and it was just seamless. It was wonderful,” he continued. “We got back all of the business files. Copies of transactions, letters, receipts, you name it and I got it back. I haven’t touched a file yet that I haven’t been able to open!”

Photo Credit: Johnie Gall

Mike Cobb, Director of Engineering and CISO
As Director of Engineering, Mike Cobb manages the day-to-day operations of the Engineering Department, including the physical and logical recoveries of rotational media, SSDs, smart devices and flash media. He also oversees the R&D efforts for past, present, and future storage technologies. Mike encourages growth and ensures that each of the departments and their engineers continues to gain knowledge in their field. Each DriveSavers engineer has been trained to ensure the successful and complete recovery of data is their top priority.

As Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), Mike oversees cybersecurity at DriveSavers, including maintaining and updating security certifications such as SOC 2 Type II compliance, coordinating company security policy, and employee cybersecurity education.

Mike joined DriveSavers in 1994 and has a B.S. degree in Computer Science from the University of California, Riverside.

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