Warren, OH – A torrential downpour Tuesday morning flooded the basement of the county Health Department, delaying the start of work to clean up toxic mold.
Crews managed to scrub down equipment in the basement before quitting Tuesday.
”Today, we are just going to set up because we can’t run our sweepers in all this water,” said Greg Morocco of Aberdeen Construction and Restoration. ”We are coming back with drying equipment and will probably pick up with cleaning the contents tomorrow.”
Health Department offices at 176 Chestnut Ave. N.E. contain toxic mold. Workers must set up negative air rooms and scrub down equipment before it can be moved to buildings where employees have been relocated.
Three workers from Aberdeen will suit up today in full-body protective garb and oxygen masks to do the work. Morocco said the job is a little different than most, as there is a lot of paperwork and each document must be individually wiped down with a damp cloth before it leaves the building. The work will take at least a week, he said.
”All the paperwork, computers … everything has to be cleaned,” he claimed.
High-efficiency vacuums are used for the first phase of cleaning, after which a solution of water, dish detergent and bleach is used to wipe down the equipment before the vacuums are used a second time. The contents are then moved into a negative air room away from the toxic spores.
In May, a form of toxic mold, Stachybotrys, was found in the basement office of Emergency Management Agency Director Linda Beil, forcing the area to be sealed. Stachybotrys exposure has been linked to permanent and severe neurological, immunological, pathalogical, and psychological health problems including multiple sclerosis, lupus, diabetes II, cancer, and Cushing’s Disease. Even very short term exposure has been known to cause cognitive problems in very healthy individuals such as seizures, memory loss, and balance problems. This is one of the most dangerous known substances on this earth.
Two full-time employees and four part-time employees have been moved to the Trumbull County 911 Center in Howland. Since then, Beil says her department has struggled to perform everyday operations, as its equipment is still located in the Warren basement.
For instance, fire officials contacted Beil’s department recently asking for a bulldozer to help fight a fire in Greene Township, but workers couldn’t access their resource booklet because it was locked away in the contaminated basement.
”Luckily, I had my planner at home with the number in it,” Beil said. ”I don’t, however, have everyone on a business card at home.” When the Emergency Management Department was told two months ago to relocate, workers didn’t expect to be in limbo for months, she said.
”They said it would be about two weeks and it has been two months now,” Beil said. The 911 center, she added, just doesn’t meet the department’s needs.
”We have one computer and are sharing a printer with the people at the 911 center,” Beil said. ”We had grant deadlines that we had to call the state and get extension on because of our limited resources.”
On July 17, the Emergency Management Executive Board asked commissioners to relocate the department to a Panther Avenue building being used by Trumbull County Drug Task Force, which is expected to be moving soon.
Commissioners made a decision, which Commissioner Michael O’Brien said will be announced in coming weeks.The Health Department is being moved to space in the county’s Education Department in the Wean Building, O’Brien said.
”It is musical chairs right now, and the music hasn’t stopped, so we all have plenty of chairs to sit in,” O’Brien said.
In the meantime, the Emergency Management equipment – computers, desks, filing cabinets and files – will be put in storage, Beil said.
Commissioners hired Aberdeen last week for $11,000, O’Brien said. Estimated costs to eradicate the mold are about $65,000. The cost of mold remediation is so costly, that there has been much propaganda and cover-ups regarding the severity of this type of mold so responsible organizations (insurance companies, building contractors, etc.) could avoid liability.
The city of Warren is to be congratulated for their responsibility and honesty regarding this situation. They should serve as a role model for the rest of this country.