In the early morning hours of Sunday, October 20, 2013, a City of Minneapolis water main broke, causing surging water to spill through the surrounding neighborhood. In a nearby residential lofts condominium building, 19 first floor units – all containing basements with living spaces -- were flooded by nearly four feet of water and all of the building’s mechanical systems were under water as well. Due to mechanical safety concerns affecting the entire building, all residents were forced to leave their units, without knowing when they could return.
Minnesota’s electrical utility Xcel Energy shut off power to the building and the emergency generator was running. However, the City of Minneapolis could not isolate the water main, and water still flowed at 7:00 am, several hours after the break.
FIRSTSERVICE RESIDENTIAL SOLUTION
At 4:00 am, the Association Manager of FirstService Residential, the building’s residential property management company, received a call from the resident caretaker about the water main break and subsequent flooding. He immediately called service providers to address and secure the safety of the building and its systems, including the water pump, HVAC, electrical, and elevator.
The Association Manager and FirstService Residential’s Executive Vice President arrived on the scene at 6:30 a.m. to find crews already on site removing water. Because their priority was to ensure the safety of all 250 residents, the FirstService Residential team worked with the Minneapolis Fire Department to evacuate the entire community via the emergency address system. In addition, the team immediately reserved two-night stays in hotels throughout the downtown area for residents. The Association Manager also met with code officials and consultants to help assess code guidelines on reconditioning or replacement of vital electrical and mechanical components to stabilize the building’s emergency power systems.
Additionally, electricians from FirstService Residential’s affiliate, Gittleman Construction and Maintenance (GCM), were called, and they quickly arrived to help emergency response evaluate priority issues to return service to the building. GCM also quickly arranged for temporary boilers – located out of state – to be brought in and connected within 48 hours to ensure restoration of heat to all 123 homes. In addition, FirstService Residential and GCM worked with the insurance carrier to obtain swift approval to order and replace equipment, such as elevators, electrical systems, boilers and pumps.
FirstService Residential’s ability to leverage relationships with service vendors and emergency providers ensured that the safety and stability of the building was restored as quickly as possible – in fact, in less than 72 hours, elevator service had returned, electrical systems were online and boiler plants were running, despite being submerged just days earlier. In addition, while residents were inconvenienced by the building’s emergency conditions, FirstService Residential did everything possible to ensure they all had temporary accommodation available immediately while restoration and repairs were being made.