MINNEAPOLIS — In one episode, a fire destroys a Twin Cities area family's kitchen, living room and garage. In another, a washing machine floods a house. Then there's the one where a tree falls through the roof, bursting the radiators and backing up the sewer.
Those are just some of the disasters that emergency restoration experts and sisters Lindsey Uselding and Kirsten Meehan tackle in a new HGTV series, "Renovation 911," which is set to debut Tuesday.
The siblings, who grew up in Edina, Minn., have come a long way since their early days answering phones at a property restoration and mitigation company, Ungerman Inc.
Now part owners of the Twin Cities-based company, the sisters have seen it all. And it has prepared them for the tasks they face in the TV series.
For the duo, the joy of their jobs goes beyond having the know-how to help homeowners fix and restore their houses. It's also being a source of emotional support.
"When our clients fall, they need help and being there for them in a time of need and helping them through the emergencies they are experiencing in their house is rewarding," Uselding said. "I try to show compassion, empathy and a little humor to help them get through those difficult situations."
On the eve of the show's debut, the co-hosts reflect on what it's like to work with family, how they landed a TV show and what sustains them. The conversations have been edited for length and clarity.
What's it like working with family on a television show?
Uselding: I couldn't do it without Kirsten. There is no way I could run this business without her support. Then filming a show — I'm not going to lie, it's long days, and knowing that she's by my side and she lifts me up when I need it. I lift her up when she needs it and that's just a relationship we've had our whole lives.
Believe it or not, we shared a room throughout our childhood. Kirsten and I are the sisters that really got along most of the time growing up and never really had any fights. We've really learned to work together from day one.
Your father, retired Ungerman CEO Ted Brinkman, makes appearances on the show. How did that come about?
Meehan: We knew once we started getting a bit further along in this process that we wanted him to be a part of the show. I mean, we're in this business because of him. He's a character on the show and he's just a funny guy.
What are some of your earliest memories of the business?
Meehan: What's really coming to mind was when we had a huge snowstorm ... with the amount of water damage, from the melted snow, coming through the roof and basements — our dad was running around like crazy trying to help clients.
Uselding: I remember we went to Take Your Daughter to Work Day and he took us to a water-damaged house. We were halfway down the stairs and saw the entire basement flooded. We could have gone swimming!
How did the HGTV series come about?
Meehan: My best friend from childhood knew an executive producer for HGTV, and she connected us. It's not anything we sought out or thought we would be doing. We just sent her iPhone videos at her request and here we are three years later. ... It's really surreal and we are incredibly grateful it worked out, because it really showcases what we do every day. Not a lot of people get to see their job on TV.
Do each of you specialize in a certain area?
Uselding: I take the emergency calls and do the logistics. That's where my strength lies: logistics and first response. The reason why Kirsten and I work well together is because we have different strengths and that's really what makes us a great combination.
Meehan: I manage the construction and design. Once all the estimates are ready to go, I just start putting things back together and making it beautiful.
What do you think kept you in emergency house renovation work?
Meehan: I've always liked to use my hands, get dirty and get into a space. It's ever-changing and no day is the same as the last and no job is the same as the next. It's not only in our blood, we just love it.
- 'RENOVATION 911'
- The season comprises eight one-hour episodes and premieres Tuesday on HGTV. Episodes are also available to stream on Discovery Plus.