Larry Elliot’s Seaford home was battering with flooding from Superstorm Sandy and once the more than four feet of water dried out, a new problem surfaced.
Elliot, 85, is one of many homeowners on Long Island's South Shore who have been hit with mold issues developed from the Oct. 29 superstorm that have made houses unlivable with repairs costing in the thousands.
"As soon as the water receded I came back to see what the damage was and I was devastated," said Elliot, a semi-retired dentist who has lived in his house surrounded by canal waters on Jackson Avenue in the Seaford Harbor area for 30 years after previously residing in Wantagh.
In an effort to help victims like Elliot, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, called Tuesday for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to draw up plans for funds from a Sandy relief bill working its way through Congress that would address mold issues caused by the storm.
Speaking at a press conference held outside Elliot’s home, Schumer said under current law resources from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) cannot be used to remove mold from a house, even if makes the home unlivable. Schumer said the Sandy aid package could provide funds for mold remediation, but there needs to be a plan in place to make sure those funds can get to homeowners like Elliot immediately.
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"The longer we wait on mold remidiation, the longer it is that homes like Mr. Elliot's beautiful home here lies vacant, the longer it is before we can begin the repair work and get people back into their homes," said Schumer, who was joined at the press conference in Seaford with Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and Sam Chu, commissioner for the Suffolk County Department of Labor. "Mold is causing a second wave of destruction among Superstorm Sandy victims, rendering houses unhealthy and unlivable even after the water has been pumped out."
Schumer said he hopes HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan can work with localities throughout New York to establish a framework for how mold remediation programs can be structured with Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funding so that affeceted homeowners can receive funds quickly.
"I thank Senator Schumer for his efforts to secure federal funding that would help our residents with mold remediation in their homes," Mangano said. "Mold presents serious health concerns for too many families and seniors who are left with this reminder of Hurricane Sandy and have no financial means bu which to pay for its removal."