Case Studies – Temporary Climate Solutions

Water disaster at LA Courthouse

Experts estimated that nearly one million gallons of water gushed out of a broken water main and across the first floor of the Los Angeles Federal Courthouse before it found its way to the building’s basement. When the flooding stopped, much of the first-floor office space was severely damaged and the 70,000-square-foot basement had four feet of standing water. Lower locations, such as the elevator shaft and the building power vault, had much deeper water. To make matters worse, the flood-damaged power vault housed transformers that supplied power to the city for blocks around.

“It was a terrific mess,” said Aaron Terrell, USGSA property manager, “we’ve had water emergencies in the building before, but nothing close to this flood.” Terrell, who was called in early Saturday morning to review the damage and set up an emergency recovery operation, had an especially difficult problem. He needed a well-equipped team of water damage recovery experts because power had been knocked out in all directions and crucial Federal Justice activities had to be restored in only two days.


Building managers were confronted with a slew of issues. First, millions of gallons of oil-contaminated water had to be put onto trucks and carried away for safe disposal. This would stall recovery operations and jeopardize the upper floors with excessive humidity throughout the building. In addition, there was extensive water damage in both the basement and the first-floor office level. Thirdly, if not fully dried out, the building would quickly develop mold/mildew problems. Indoor air quality might have easily been compromised, closing the building to all occupants. Lastly, vital courthouse operations were jeopardized because first-floor offices for the Public Defender, US Attorney, and US Marshals, as well as the building security operations center, required immediate restoration.

“We needed to start the drying quickly — even before the water was pumped from the basement — but we had no power to run equipment,” said Terrell. “That’s when we called Polygon. They began the drying when no one else could.”


Given that Polygon has mobile Emergency Response Units (ERUs) specifically equipped to operate without external utilities, it is the only water damage recovery company always standing ready to handle a complicated project such as the LA Federal Courthouse. Polygon was on the site within a few hours of Terrell’s call. The ERUs were supplying dry air into the flooded courthouse — thus stabilizing the building and beginning the dry-out even before the water was pumped out.

The self-contained drying systems carry high-volume desiccant dehumidifiers, which have onboard propane gas and electrical generators. They are towed to the site, started up, and then drying begins — all without extra generators or utility hookups. Not only did the courthouse staff get a fast start on the drying process, but the electrical vault which was crucial to the city for blocks around—dried quickly, making it safer and easier for power company repair crews to work.

Initially, the dry air served to stabilize conditions. By doing this, the humidity inside the building was reduced and moisture didn’t travel to the upper floors, preventing further damage. After standing water was pumped from the building, drying began to pull moisture out of the wet structure, such as wallboard, carpeting, furniture, and even the concrete walls in the basement.

After the final setup, Polygon had 10 large dehumidifiers, over a mile of ductwork, and enough air-moving equipment to provide 200,000 cfm in its large drying system. Polygon completed the drying of the building in eight days, two days earlier than anticipated, sparing the government both inconvenience and money as a result.

“I give Polygon credit for a great setup,” said Terrell. “We had approximately 100 people working in and around the water-damaged area. Polygon professionals did their best to work with the employees when they returned. They were courteous and careful to allow our staff to keep their casework on schedule. And still, they got the drying done.”


Immediate Response

With power blacked out, Polygon was on the scene drying when no one else could. Our ERUs are completely self-contained drying systems that can provide an immediate response to major water disasters.

Fast Recovery

Polygon left the courthouse two days ahead of the estimate. Around-the-clock work by Polygon staff made the drying effort go smoothly, cutting costs and inconvenience.

Reduced Losses

Many times, Polygon can prevent serious, long-term disruption after a flood by saving, not replacing, the interior structure, carpet, and furniture. As a result, helping clients avoid the disruption and expense of reconstruction.

Avoid IAQ Problems

Buildings that are dried superficially can many times become a public health hazard, as the rampant growth of mold and mildew plus accompanying noxious odors become apparent. Therefore, by eliminating dangerous mold, mildew, and bacteria by the careful drying of wall interiors and other “hidden” areas, you can prevent that from happening.

“We needed to start the drying quickly — even before the water was pumped from the basement — but we had no power to run equipment,” said Terrell. “That’s when we called Polygon. They began the drying when no one else could.”

Aaron Terrell, USGSA Property Manager