Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered theatres that stage plays and other performances across Southern California, elsewhere in the state, and from coast to coast in the United States. With that said, from time to time, theatres faced other challenges as the strove to bring musicals, comedies, and dramas to people in the Golden State and around the country. Take the case of the Mirabella Theatre in a California resort community. (As a preliminary matter, the names have been changed in this article as a means of protecting the privacy of our client and others.)

In February 2020, the Mirabella Theatre staged its last production before the pandemic hit. Perhaps some might have considered what happened on that opening night of its latest show a harbinger of things to come in a calendar year that many folks have come to consider jinxed (at best).

Directly after the lobby doors opened for the premiere performance, and unknown to the staff of the theatre, plumbing issues were afoot in both the men’s and women’s restrooms. The Mirabella is a historic theatre property, built over a hundred years earlier. The incoming and outgoing plumbing in the building is dated. The restrooms were situated on opposite sides of the lobby, the men’s at one end, the women’s at the other.

As if in a synchronized fashion, what some described as a gurgling like sound came simultaneously from each restroom. What was not immediately realized by staff and others was that something was amiss with the sewage pipes leading out of the building and towards the city sewer main under the street in front of the theatre.

Shortly after the gurgling sound was heard by some, the toilets in each of the restrooms began to overflow. Fortunately, the overflow was not in the form of a powerful rush, but more of a plodding flow. In addition, initially, the water running from the toilets onto the floor – and heading toward the lobby – was not immediately heavily laden with sewage. Unfortunately, the overflow from the sewer pipe, through the toilet, onto the floor would become contaminated with waste in short order.

After a bit, the water flowed under the bathroom doors and towards the lobby. The theatre team sprang into action, ushering patrons into the house of the production venue. They were also able to direct patrons who’d not yet entered into the facility through a doorway that bypassed the lobby.

The old adage that the show must go on became a reality.

While the actors took to the stage, and the audience enjoyed the show, the theatre staff dealt with the regrettable issue at hand with the plumbing. They were able to cut off the water backflow from the sewage system. In addition, they called our team at Eco Bear. A biohazard remediation company, we have a team of specialists on hand who are experienced in addressing the unique challenges of sewage cleanup and sanitization.

We sent a rapid response sewage cleaning and sanitization team to the Mirabella Theatre, having specialists at the site in very little time. As a family-owned, independent, local business ourselves, we understand that when an emergency arises, the need to address it rapidly is a must.

When it comes to a biohazard remediation job that involves the need to address a sewage mishap, we typically follow a six-stage process:

  • First, we make sure that any area that has been contaminated with sewage is cordoned off. In this case, it was vital that theatre staff and patrons were kept away from the areas tainted by sewage. (Next door to the theatre was a neighborhood bakery. The owners of that small business welcomed the patrons to their establishment for intermission. The theatergoers were able to enjoy baked goods, beverages, and bathroom breaks thanks to the neighboring business.)
  • Second, we always make sure our own team of pros is fully outfitted in suitable personal protective equipment or PPE.
  • Third, our specialists remove the wastewater and debris efficiently and in accordance with all regulations associated with the elimination of biohazardous waste like sewage.
  • Fourth, when that step is completed, we clean or scrub the contaminated area. In the case of the Mirabella Theatre, the lobby flooring was tile, not carpeting. This reality made the scrubbing process a bit more manageable.
  • Fifth, once the thorough scrubbing of the contaminated area is done, the space is sanitized. Sewage can be awash in dangerous pathogens capable of causing health issues, including serious and sometimes fatal diseases.
  • Finally, we need not tell you that a situation involving sewage can be smelly, and oftentimes powerfully so. We wrap up the comprehensive sewage cleanup process by deodorizing the premises. We use commercial grade deodorization agents to accomplish this important goal.

We need to also make note that before any of this began, we provided the proprietors of the historic theatre with a reliable cost estimate. Once again, because we are local business owners – because we are part of the community – we understand the need of upfront pricing. Unlike the corporate outfits headquartered in far off cities, there are never any hidden fees or unanticipated additional costs for our services.

While everything wasn’t completely done by the time the show ended, we were well into our work. By the following day’s show, and with our work done, the plumbing crew was on site and dealt with the underlying problem that caused the sewage malfunction in the first instance. By the following day, the show once again went one – and the lobby was pristine and ready for excited theatregoers.