Staten Island, NY – “In 10 years, they’re going to tell me I have cancer because I had to breathe in their mold when it gets warm?” asked Pat Scala of New Dorp Beach who, like nearly everyone else on her block, is dealing with Sandy’s aftermath on a daily basis.
Her latest concern is not with her own home. It’s the two abandoned houses next door. Beyond the dead animals, Scala says, both homes have mold growing on the inside and outside.
“That’s the first thing they tell you, don’t go near it. Don’t touch it, wear masks, gloves, suits. And then what? I open my window and then breathe it in from my neighbor? It’s not fair,” said Scala.
Across the street, Jessica Artie says she has even more at stake with her 9-year-old son John-John living at home. “He has asthma. He’s had sinus infections back to back. The mold is ridiculous. Its next door, just looking through the windows, it is on the blinds,” said Artie.
When another neighbor, Dee McGrath, saw it, she jumped into action. “I see the black mold growing on the inside of the blinds growing next door… so I called 311 to make a complaint because its hazardous. Its hazardous in my house, it must be hazardous in the one next door to mine,” said McGrath.
State Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis and City Councilman James Oddo agree. That is why they sent a letter on December 26th urging the city to direct “its full attention to addressing the abundance of storm-damaged, abandoned homes on Staten Island.”
So far, no response.
As for the city’s statement on this case, a spokesman for the Sandy Recovery effort, Peter Spencer told PIX 11, if it “poses an immediate danger to public safety, the City may be able to intervene and take appropriate action. However, the potential presence of mold in an abandoned building is not considered something that poses an immediate safety hazard to adjacent structures.”
Scala says she is not sold on the city’s stance. “You’re going to tell me it is not going to come out of this house into the air by my house? By my neighbor’s house? We are going to be smelling this, we’re going to have to deal with it.”
The city says it can issue violations to landlords who fail to comply with housing code, but private homeowners are responsible for maintaining their own properties. In this case, neighbors tell PIX 11 at least one of these houses is actually owned by a bank. Meanwhile, the residents hope something is done with both of those homes before the weather gets warmer.