In June of 2006 the East Coast was pelted with more rain than it had seen in a century, a rain so unprecedented that The Washington Post had to rewrite its precipitation almanac to reflect the almost 15 inches that fell that month, Bill Begal was prepared. He knew he would be getting lots of calls for help with flood damage. Little did he know, however, that he would be fielding a call that would lead to his earning RIA’s Phoenix Award.
The call came in at 12:05 a.m. on June 26. The headquarters of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Washington, D.C., the very agency that oversees many aspects of the restoration industry, had water pouring into its basement after four days of rain had dumped more than a foot of water on the area, overwhelming storm sewers. Around six or seven in the morning, as soon as flood waters subsided, workers began extracting water using pumps and portable extraction units. Furniture and bookcases were blocked. Begal didn’t want there to be any fungal concerns “especially in the basement of the agency that monitors the restoration industry.”
The company had trailer-mounted desiccant dehumidifiers onsite by 10 p.m. In addition, the company set up and energized portable low grain (LGR) dehumidifiers and air scrubbers. Within 80 hours of being called to the project he had established two crews of 40 employees who would each work 12-hour shifts, enabling Begal Enterprises to work around the clock until the restoration was complete.
In a little bit less than three weeks, workers removed almost 450,000 square feet of drywall, insulation, carpeting and vinyl tiling — or around 72 tons of debris. Containments were set up to prevent cross-contamination between cleaned areas and those awaiting restoration. Drywall was removed up to four feet high throughout the building. Because the building was exposed to rainwater, an industrial hygienist was needed to provide clearance testing to make sure it was safe and cleared to begin reconstruction. The testing took place on July 14 and the EPA used one of its own hygienists. Begal is pleased to note that 98 percent of the samples passed, and 90 percent of those came back with zero organisms present. “There was no mold and no bacteria, nothing — it’s almost impossible to remove all bacteria,” Begal says proudly. “We did. We treated the building, especially this building, like we do our hospital clients.” It’s safe to say that the basement was cleaner than it had ever been at any time in its recent history.