Sandy family gets double whammy after mold forces them from rental

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WEST BABYLON (PIX11) – A Long Island mother of two cried as she went through family belongings inside a rental unit in West Babylon.  Lauren Norinder said she had to throw out her five-year old son’s Mother’s Day card, along with clothing and furniture, because the FEMA-funded two bedroom  apartment she’s been renting since March has mold.  Norinder is breaking the lease two months early and going to her mother’s house, because her options have run out.

“Having to go through what we went through—losing our house, and then our stuff, and going through it again,” she said with tears in her eyes, “We’re homeless.”

Norinder—whose one-family home was flooded in the October 29th storm– said she had to move out of the West Babylon apartment complex with her husband and two sons Wednesday,  because her youngest son, Lucas—who’s 4—has severe bronchial asthma.  Norinder said  his cough got more pronounced in the last month.  When she and her husband looked for a ‘trigger’—Norinder said they found their winter clothing in the closet was full of mold, along with shoes, pocketbooks, and even new bedroom furniture.

The leasing manager at the complex told them they couldn’t have their $4,000 security deposit back, writing a letter saying “because of the lack of proper upkeep and housekeeping, you could cause damage to the property and you will be responsible for the damage.”

PIX 11 talked to the owner of the property, who told us this is the first Sandy victim staying at the complex who’s complained of mold.   The owner blamed the family for not keeping the air conditioning on during the severe heat and humidity in July.

Before moving out, the family hired a private mold inspector to test the premises.  The results are due Friday.

Michelle Ferguson told PIX 11 when she cut a small piece of sheetrock in a closet, “I definitely saw signs of visible mold” in the wall cavity.

The apartment complex told PIX it never had mold problems before, even though some previous tenants contacted Lauren Norinder and said they had disputes—before Hurricane Sandy—with the leasing office about dampness.  The owner told PIX 11 the units never flooded during Sandy.