One hundred and forty years ago, the wives, sisters, daughters and mothers of U.S. rail workers formed a women’s auxiliary organization to help create better lives for their families. Years later, the then thriving group, calling themselves the Degree of Honor, built its 10-story granite headquarters in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1964. When a water main ruptured and flooded the historic building in late 2020, Paul Davis of Greater St. Paul and Minneapolis rushed to rescue one of the city’s landmarks. 

“When we arrived, the 4,500 square-meter basement was flooded to a depth of 50 centimeters with 53,000 liters of water,” describes local Paul Davis Emergency Response Team Lead Andy Banas, who says the building was recently converted for apartment living and no longer houses the Degree of Honor organization. “Using truck-mounted extraction equipment, submersible pumps, and opening drains for hand squeegeeing, our emergency responders eliminated the standing water very quickly.”

Cleared of knee-deep floodwaters, the basement revealed numerous restoration challenges. Porous building materials including plaster, masonry block and poured concrete were thoroughly soaked. The lower level also featured a nearly completed suite of amenities for upscale apartment dwelling: a fitness center, a party room, bike storage, bathrooms, general storage, and common halls. Prior to the flood, construction crews had just begun finishing activities.

“Construction crews had nearly completed the basement redesign, preparing for the grand opening of the building to incoming tenants. The water main inundated all their hard work,” Banas explains. “Our crews had to complete mitigation and restoration activities quickly and completely because new residents were arriving soon – despite the high waters!”

Paul Davis demolished and removed all porous materials below the .6 metre line across the entire basement, then cleaned and decontaminated all affected areas. The company also deployed air movers, dehumidifiers, specialized electrical distribution equipment and portable heaters to achieve optimal drying conditions throughout the basement. Paul Davis crews also shared space with construction personnel continuing to prep for grand opening festivities.

Paul Davis completed the entire mitigation phase in less than a month during the holiday season. “In our business, it’s common to hear reports of a significant water flood in the basement. Fortunately for most, the flooding is often less catastrophic than it appears,” Banas concludes. “In this case, it was no exaggeration and we still came through for these commercial customers. Whatever the disaster situation, the best solution is to call Paul.”