New Yorkers whose houses were damaged by Hurricane Sandy are now dealing with mold, and they are relying on volunteers to help with the cleanup. NY1's Natasha Ghoneim filed the following report.
It's a dirty job not many would volunteer for, but people's health depends on "mucking out" the mold in their hurricane-flooded homes.
"I first called my doctor and my allergist to make sure I'd be OK," said volunteer Ed Zipf. "I think when you know there's water and there's a lot of saturation, you know there's going to be dealing with mold. You just go and deal with it. I know there's a health hazard, but you make sure you protect yourself."
Brijamohn Lila, a resident whose basement was gutted, worked every day removing debris and mold until he got sick. Many residents are so overwhelmed, they welcomed the extra hands from World Cares Center.
"I got the flu," Brijamohn Lila said. "We had no heat, no electricity. We could not do anything."
"We tried to get rid of the mold," said Choolwantie Lila. "I don't know if we finished it completely or what. But as long as we break up all the work, we'll try to spray again in order to get rid of the mold because it's dangerous."
World Cares Center ensures that people helping others aren’t putting themselves in harm’s way. After getting trained, volunteers have spent every day toiling, removing mold and rebuilding. So many homes in the Rockaways and on Staten Island still need to be gutted and the mold properly purged, and With 11 years of helping people recover after disasters, World Cares Center is leading the volunteer mold-busting effort called Operation Muck Out.
"Our biggest fear is, people are going to get heat back on, they're going to close their door, they're going to shut their basement or they're going to not take care of the mold and they're going to turn around and now they've created the perfect environment for mold to grow," said Lisa Orloff, the founder of World Cares Center. "They're going to have an abundance of mold, and they may not understand why they're getting sick."
Purging the mold will be a growing part of the Hurricane Sandy recovery effort. Orloff said when Sandy made landfall, volunteers were still removing mold in homes hit by Tropical Storm Irene.
For more information about World Cares Center, visit worldcares.org.