Blue River Environmental photo

Shelby County-based Blue River Environmental and Restoration restored a Louisiana school building after Hurricane Ida struck the Gulf of Mexico a couple weeks ago. The company is also working on three other restoration projects in southeast Louisiana.

Shelby County-based Blue River Environmental and Restoration is down in southeast Louisiana right now working on four restoration projects.

“We’ve done two elementary schools and two hospitals in Louisiana,” said Vice President TJ Morgan. “We’ve got anywhere from 50-200 people on the ground after a disaster.”

Blue River Environmental was founded in 2011 as a sister company to HIS Constructors. Both facilities will be relocated to the Pleasant View area, once the new headquarters building is finished.

HIS Corporation to build headquarters in Moral Township

“It started off as a purely environmental company doing site soil remediation, hazardous chemical cleanup in 2011, when it first started,” Morgan said. “In 2017, we joined a franchise group called DKI, there’s 160 members in the group.”

It’s through this franchise the company was able to assist after Hurricane Ida, Morgan said.

“We were called down by one of our franchise group members to respond initially to a hospital,” he said. “The hurricane hit on Monday, then on Tuesday morning we were on site with roofing crews, an 80-ton crane and supplies, basically to get the roof sealed up so we could start the draining process to get a hold of mold.”

Mold is a huge issue down south, Morgan said. When the power goes out, facilities get so humid mold starts to set almost immediately.

“You need to get in as fast as you can to stabilize the environment to mitigate that mold growth as much as possible, especially in a hospital,” he said.

There’s three to four weeks left in this project. Blue River Environmental and Restoration focuses on stabilizing the environment and completes interior demolition for a different construction company to complete the restoration.

“The portion we do takes anywhere from a week to two months,” Morgan said. “It depends on when the power comes back, how much water was in the building, how many floors the building has.”

After arriving to complete this hospital, the company was able to secure three more restoration projects – two elementary schools and another hospital.

“One of the schools we’re almost complete with and then the second one is about halfway done,” Morgan said.

The second hospital will take a little bit longer. This hospital is still operating, so the company has to coordinate with the hospital staff to get patients moved off a floor so they can get in and do their work.

“We have to do it floor by floor by floor because the hospital still has to maintain operations while we do our work,” Morgan said. This hospital has eight floors.

Morgan expects Blue River Environmental and Restoration to be in Louisiana through the end of the year.

“Unfortunately, there’s a lot of natural disasters in that part of the country right now,” he said. “It seems like every year third quarter (of the year) there’s a major event somewhere in the country.”

For the last six years, the company has responded to some sort of natural disaster in different places all over the country.

“We’ve worked from Chicago to Houston over the past five years,” Morgan said. “A lot of hurricane response. We were down in Texas for the outlier freeze they had. We worked on a college down there.”

The company has a natural disaster response team in place. Its five full-time members (who are not just based in Indiana) are ready to go when disaster strikes.

“Basically, starting about September, it’s kind of like mobilizing the military,” Morgan said. “We have a whole group of campers, semi trucks, pickup trucks with equipment. We’re moving around the county from 3-6 months. … When we get to the location, we staff up with a few labor companies. They are on the road half the year basically.”

Blue River Environmental has the capability to be in multiple places at once, but it doesn’t happen often. In 2020, they were in Houston and New Orleans at the same time. New Orleans got hit with a hurricane and Houston was hit with a freeze.

“We have 5-6 people dedicated to this stuff,” Morgan said. “Our other people are willing to travel and we can move a lot of resources really quickly. People who don’t normally travel, we can surge an area if we need to.”