A new public health risk has joined the digestive disorders, rashes and infections already experienced by residents of Hurricane Sandy one month after the devastating storm battered the coastal areas of New Jersey and New York, leaving thousands still homeless and many areas such as the Rockaways and Staten Island still without power today.
With many homes submerged by flood waters during the Oct. 25 storm, mold has begun to form in still-damp areas, the International Business Times (IBT) reports today.
"Standing water, and the disease-causing bugs that breed there, will likely make many buildings in New York City a health threat."
Jim Hoffer of WABC in the Rockaways reports that senior citizens 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.
Volunteers wonder how the city has not seen the situation as a crisis, and argue that the "dire emergency" demands homes and shelters for senior citizens.
But assistant health commissioner Nancy Clark told WABC that "we've seen no uptick" in emergency rooms for illness or respiratory illness.
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.
New Yorkers may also have to contend with an increased population of rats — which can squeeze into holes a half-inch wide, the International Business Times reports, "so New Yorkers may want to make sure even tiny holes in their buildings are stopped up."
But no "ratpocalypse" is expected, because flooding often drowns young rats, Sam Miller, spokesman for the New York City Department of Heath and Mental Hygeine, told New York magazine.
Officials recommend drying the affected areas, using fans when possible, opening windows for fresh air and using dehumidifiers in enclosed spaces.
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