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Health threat after Sandy in the Rockaways

November 26, 2012 3:08:03 PM PST
Volunteers on the front lines of the recovery in the Rockaways see a health threat spreading through hundreds of water-soaked homes.

"We have senior citizens in their homes who are sick in their homes and can't get out."

Like so many homes in the Rockaways, Calvin Turney's home from the outside shows little damage. It's inside where Sandy's surge has left its mark. He says the first floor is filled with mold. The Turneys are also living without heat, electricity and water.

"No heat is a problem. How much can a body take," Turney said.

The mold and cold nights have taken a toll on Mr. Turney's wife, who days ago was diagnosed with bronchitis and given powerful inhalers to help her breathing.

"At night I sleep with 4 blankets, 2 socks, 3 sweaters and gloves," Adrian Turney said.

"I cannot imagine how the city would not consider this to be a crisis," volunteer Brett Scudder said.

Scudder, who has spent every day since the hurricane helping homeowners, says spreading mold threatens the health of many in the Rockaways.

"The city needs to make available right now homes and shelters for senior citizens living in Rockaways in these conditions. It's a dire emergency that this happens immediately," he said.

The Health Department which urges immediate removal of mold says there's no emergency.

The volunteers say it's a health crisis in the Rockaways. What does the Health Department say?

"We are monitoring emergency room visits and hospitalizations for illnesses, respiratory illnesses and to date we've not seen an up-tick but we continue to monitor," Nancy Clark, asst. Health Commissioner, said.

The Health Department says it has no guidelines as to how bad the mold problem must be before considering evacuation.

And one month since Sandy, neither the city, the state, nor FEMA has a concrete plan for alternative housing for those displaced by mold, lack of heat, or a myriad of other problems making homes inhabitable.

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