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Gerritsen Beach beware: A warm weather mold menace is feared in the Sandy-struck neighborhood

By Lore Croghan
February 12, 2013

 
Mold left behind after Superstorm Sandy will run wild in Gerritsen Beach when warm weather comes, relief groups warn.

Storm-ravaged neighborhoods citywide face a health menace from mold lurking in improperly cleaned homes, the Daily News revealed in a front-page special report Sunday.

The danger is especially acute in the blue-collar waterfront community because nearly all its 2,000 homes were flooded during Sandy.

“Gerritsen Beach has the worst mold problem I’ve ever seen — and it’s going to get worse,” said Eric Klein, CEO of CAN-DO.org.

“It’s like watching a powderkeg with a lit fuse,” said Klein, who has done relief work at sites hard hit by hurricanes for 20 years.

Hundreds of neighborhood homes have been rebuilt after ineffective cleanup which left mold festering behind their new walls.

The deadly fungus is lodged beneath the surface of wood, concrete and sheetrock — ready to erupt when springtime brings high humidity and warm temperatures. Residents will have to tear up reconstructed homes to get rid of it.

“This neighborhood is going to get crushed all over again in the spring,” said Michael Taylor of Gerritsen Beach Cares, who fears some homes will become so overrun with mold they’ll have to be condemned.

Residents already battling the foul fungus are spooked by the threat of a spring mold explosion.

“I’m scared to death,” said Pat Bartha, 57, who shares her Frank Court home with her pregnant daughter.

“My grandbaby will be born by then,” said the school crossing guard, who blames the mold for a bad bout of bronchitis.

She paid a cleaning company $825 to clear the mold from her crawl space in December; it’s already grown back.

Exposure to mold triggers asthma attacks, sinus congestion, coughs, burning eyes, bloody noses, skin rashes, headaches and memory loss, health experts say.

“This mold thing is going to be another blow to people,” Jim Mooney, 57, another Frank Court homeowner, said as a volunteer demolition crew ripped out his kitchen floor.

The school custodian vowed to hold off on rebuilding until he comes up with money to pay a licensed mold-remediation professional.

Gerritsen Beach Cares has lined up three reliable companies to do mold cleanup for $1,000 to $3,000 per home and guarantee their work for three years.

Claire Bianco, 60, found out there’s mold in her basement with an air test she did with a Petri dish.

“I’m coughing all the time and my asthma is kicking up,” the Bevy Court grandmother said. “I knew something wasn’t right.”

She’s worried that an abandoned house across the street from hers will spew mold spores into the air when spring comes.

“When our mold is 100% cleaned up we’re going to open our windows and those particles will float in,” she said.

 
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