We moved into our house in 2017. When Ida hit, I knew it was a very strong storm. The wind was whipping and there was a lot of rain. Unlike my former house in Bergenfield, where we were at the foot of a hill, here we were on top of a hill so I wasn’t as concerned about flooding. I was shocked when the storm hit and I saw what had happened. I noticed there was a puddle of water in my basement and I said, “I don’t believe this, it’s flooding even though we’re in the hills.”

I got scared because half of the basement is carpeted. It was old carpet from the former owner, and was already pretty musty when we moved in. When I first saw the puddle, I was worried the whole thing would flood. As it turned out, while we didn’t get very high water, it was just enough to cover the carpet. It was bad.

My son brought me a shop-vac and a dehumidifier, which I kept in my house for a month – there was a lot of water and moisture we tried to clean up. But even with the dehumidifier and the suctioning, I noticed a black spot growing in the corner of the basement. There are two closets down there, and when I opened them up, I realized there was mold all throughout the two closets and going up the walls.

I have a 90 year old dad with COPD, congestive heart failure, and dementia. I was watching him to try to keep him from going into the basement, but sometimes when my back was turned he’d go down there as we don’t have a door leading to the basement to keep him from doing so. After he went into the basement he’d have serious breathing problems. My daughter, who has eczema and allergies, started coughing too. I was scared for both of them.

I looked for help, and ended up on the phone with Milagro from ICC to tell her about what was going on in my house. She said “don’t worry, let me see what we can do.” That was spring of 2022. And before the summer, I had received $5,000 from the Ida Fund to remove the mold!

I couldn’t find any contractors who would fix the basement and I was so scared for my dad and my daughter. I finally got a contractor who would take me on. We were worried there was mold under the carpet as well as the walls. They were able to remove the carpet, remove the mold on the wall, and get it finished.

On top of the cost, his labor fee was $4,700, so I had to sell my mortgage so I could pay for it to be done. But I could not have afforded any of this without the money from the Ida fund. I have two children who are college students. I’m the only earner in the house. It took me such a long time to repair and rebuild because I couldn’t afford the cost to pay for it.

I’m so happy and so thankful. I can’t thank this organization enough for helping us out. When I got the money, I called Megan from NJOP right away and said “you won’t believe it.” I just couldn’t believe it – that somebody was going to help with this.

However, the roof between the house and the annex the former owners built is still weak and the moldings are starting to come down. It’ll be another $8,000 to fix it. So we’re waiting to see if we’ll be able to afford it eventually. We’re scared it’ll fall down on our heads during the next storm.

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