Many homeowners whose houses were flooded when Hurricane Sandy swept through are now dealing with severe cases of mold, which a Queens homeowner found out is not only a health risk but also a huge additional expense to repair costs. NY1's Susan Jhun filed the following NY1 For You report.
Ellen Sautner thought her Rockaway Beach home mostly survived the brunt of Hurricane Sandy, until she moved back in and found mold growing.
"I was smelling like musty mold and then when it started drying, you were seeing mold," Sautner says. "As weeks progressed, the mold was going a little bit up the closet door, up the wall."
Worried about her son's mold allergy, the single mother called a mold specialist who told her it was not safe to stay in the house.
"You need to get out of your house, you need to get the mold done, you need to figure something out. You shouldn't be living on top of that mold," Sautner says.
She says the specialist gave her a $50,000 estimate to completely wipe her home of the mold.
"All my floors need to be gutted out, sub-floors and top floors," Sautner says.
Without flood insurance, Sautner says the amount she received from insurance and the Federal Emergency Management Agency is not nearly enough to cover the cost.
It is a growing issue facing many with mold contamination from Sandy. Dan Kass, the deputy commissioner for environmental health, says any house flooded by Sandy most likely has mold, and unless removed completely, mold returns and poses serious health risks to those exposed.
"Anywhere that had water saturated in it now has organic material, it has moisture and those are the two things it needs for mold growth," Kass says.
After several denials and appeals to FEMA, Sautner was finally approved for an additional $11,000, but that is still not enough to get the job done and completely stop the mold from spreading.