Sandy Stories From Staten Island to Long Island

Photos by Karen Smul

Last week marked 6 months since Hurricane Sandy devastated communities across New York City. MRNY and our members have been working nonstop in low-income and immigrant communities in Staten Island, Queens and Long Island to ensure that cleanup efforts after the storm are equitable and reach the most vulnerable New Yorkers.

Now our city must turn its attention to one of the most obstinate and problematic of Sandy's impacts: Mold.

Toxic mold grows quickly and persistently when moisture remains behind after buildings flood. Without proper remediation, mold can take hold and cause or seriously exacerbate respiratory illness, especially in children and vulnerable adults. After Hurricane Katrina, 46% of homes were contaminated by mold and the number of children experiencing asthma attacks jumped 80%.

This Tuesday, MRNY and our partners in the Alliance for a Just Rebuilding released a report, "Sandy's Mold Legacy,"[1] based on in-depth interviews with nearly 700 Sandy-impacted families.

The findings are sobering: of homes that flooded during Sandy, a full 66% still have visible mold infestation six months after the hurricane. And ninety-two percent of those who tried to remediate mold themselves have seen the mold come back.

Not only is mold a public health crisis post-Sandy, it is also an issue of inequity: wealthy homeowners can afford to pay experts to make their homes safe. But middle and working class New Yorkers have limited options. Low-income renters in particular are stuck waiting for landlords to make repairs, living with toxic mold, or are still displaced from their homes.

Our report urges the City to take swift action to proactively assess and systematically respond to the unmet need for mold remediation, and remove mold from rental housing where landlords have failed to act. The City -- thorough the Mayor's Fund, Robin Hood and other funders -- has set up a program to remediate mold for free. But not enough homeowners and tenants are recognizing that they may have toxic mold and taking advantage of the program.

If you or someone you know is affected by mold in your home, contact Danielle Grant at (347) 684-7773 and we can help you enroll in the Mayor's Fund program.

MRNY has also partnered with Laborers Local 78, ALIGN, and several other key allies to train Sandy-impacted and hard-to-employ workers in mold remediation and place them with expert contractors to provide thorough, cost-effective clean-up.

Thank you for your ongoing support for Make the Road's Sandy recovery work! For more photos, visit the Epoch Times slideshow.

- Deborah Axt, Co-Executive Director

[1] Full text: "Sandy's Mold Legacy: The Unmet Need 6 Months After the Storm"



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